Photography by Richie Talboy
Styling by Dani Michelle
Fantasy. Love. Escape. Glitz. Glamour. Fun. These are the pillars of performance persona Erika Jayne’s world. What started as an art project from the mind of one Erika Girardi has now become a movement—one that encourages everybody to channel their fierceness and live their truth out loud and proud.
Hailing from the great city of Atlanta, Georgia, Erika’s journey has been as colorful and complex as her current destination, but throughout the twists and turns, performing was a constant.
That being said, let us entertain you. We spoke to the self-proclaimed Pretty Mess about life, fashion, and what’s to come in the future, accompanied by our very own version of fashion roleplay inspired by Ginger Mckenna (played by Sharon Stone), from Martin Scorsese's 1995 film, Casino.
What's something you tell yourself every day?
I can do it. I earned it. It's something you have to remind yourself.
I've been watching interviews where you say that Erika Jayne is about having fun, letting loose, dancing, forgetting troubles. I'm curious, who was that person for you when you were growing up?
I think it's something that I had to teach myself because growing up wasn't always a barrel of laughs. I was insecure and I had a lot of self-doubts, which is why I tell myself I can do it and that I earned it. I think you kind of become your own best cheerleader. I mean, obviously, my mom and my grandmother were big cheerleaders of mine, but at the end of the day, you have to be your own cheerleader—every day. Otherwise, it's not going to work out if you don't believe in yourself. I think a lot of it, too, is looking around and saying 'Why not me?' You know, 'Why not me?' I mean, if they can do it I can do it. There's nothing that special about anyone, really.
So, if they can do it, I can do it, too.
Tell me about your earliest performance memories.
When I was performing for my family, that's just like childhood. So you know I asked to be introduced, I would get in the closet and jump out, I'd have them say my name and jump up on the coffee table. It was just being a child, playing out a fantasy. [Then] doing children's theater and then go to a performing arts high school, where we performed all over the world, really, is where you got your best training.
Later came Real Housewives of Beverly Hills…
I definitely think that The Real Housewives opportunity brought Erika Jayne into people's living rooms. You know, Erika Jayne was in nightclubs and things like that. Everyone's gotten a taste of Erika Jayne and it's nice to see the people coming to the shows because a lot of women are coming from you know college and often and it's great you know mostly it was in the gay clubs and now it's everybody, which is cool.
What’s it been like to see your growth?
I enjoy seeing the growth, it’s great. Having been on the Pretty Mess tour here for these last couple of months and looking at the people that are coming and having a good time, it's very special very special. I definitely owe a lot of that to the exposure from Housewives for sure.
Can you describe what goes on before taking the stage?
It's organized chaos. Everything is different. You have a sound check—a very thorough sound check—to make sure that everything is worked out so smoothly and then you're in glam, and then you have a small prayer before you hit the stage and it's it's a lot of fun. That's what it's all about. You want to come together and be thankful for having the privilege of getting to do what you love for work.
What is the hardest part about touring?
The hardest part about touring is you get tired and you can get very irritable because you don't sleep well all the time. The biggest thing is managing your sleep and trying to eat right because you know that when you're tired and irritable you inevitably want comfort food. i.e. junk food and sugar.
Congratulations on the TED Talk, by the way. That’s huge!
Oh, thank you. Hardest thing I've ever done.
How did that come to be?
Yes. So TED Pasadena reached out to me in the spring of last year and asked if I'd be interested in doing a [TED] Talk. I was totally blown away because I would have never thought that would even come across my universe. I said yes, and it's the hardest thing I've ever done.
I thought that talking about my own life wouldn't be that challenging but it turned out that it was. If anyone gets a chance to do [one] I highly recommend it because it's very challenging. You know, I still haven't watched mine. I still won't watch it.
Do you feel that moment pushed you as a performer?
Well, yeah, Erika Jane is a mask, even though she's a great part of your personality, it's still a performance persona. When I was standing on the red circle, there was nothing there. [It’s] just a human being and telling your story and you know, I didn't know what was going to happen. I didn't know whether people would like it or not like it or you just don't know. It's something completely different.
And did that moment giving the talk and then sort of after, has that changed your delivery or do you now approach things differently?
I think that it's made some of the other things easier because when you strip it down that raw. After you've laid it all out there, like in TED, there's really nothing left to say. You kind of expose it all.
What role has fashion played in your life?
Well, fashion is a way to escape and to express your personality and to have fun. I have always liked the idea of fashion and creating personalities with fashion. Let it be over the top or understated or effortless or chic. Or, you know, Erika Jayne with 100 crystals on her face. That’s always been a theme of my life. I’ve always enjoyed costume. I think it's a great part of life, honestly. It's really self-expression.
Would you say that Ginger from Scorsese’s Casino is one of those personalities?
Oh man, I got to live out my inner Ginger fantasy [with this shoot]. Casino is probably my favorite movie next to The Godfather, go figure. Ginger is one of the best female characters of all time. You helped me live out one of my one of my major fantasies! Thank you.
Now that tour is over, what are your plans?
The ShoeDazzle collaboration comes out and then also my collaboration with Too Faced Cosmetics.
Too Faced! Tell me more.
It's two different personalities. You get the Erika Jane and the Erika Girardi. You get lips and eyes and kissable body shimmers and all kinds of other stuff. I'm super excited about it. Jerrod [Blandino] and I are friends and I couldn't think of anyone else to be in the makeup business with. He’s amazing.
What is still left on Erika's list of goals?
I'm just going to say one word: more. Let's just leave it right there.
Hair: Clyde Haygood
Makeup: Etienne Ortega
Production: Yael Quint and Abraham Martinez
Photographer's Assistant: Melody English
Stylist Assistants: Mina Erkli, Tinne Ridder-Nielson, Anaa Saber
Video: Ben Chabanon
Assistant DPs: Maia Stoicovici and Cole Carter
Special Thanks: Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa