In the 10 years since she’s been making and releasing music as a solo artist, Erika Girardi has racked up nine No. 1 singles on the Billboard Dance Club charts — all released under the name of the fierce, fearless performance persona Erika Jayne.
Now, with the release of the new video for her single “XXPEN$IVE,” the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star is taking a tour down memory with PEOPLE — walking through five standout videos from her catalog and chatting about all things RHOBH in the process.
1. “Roller Coaster” (2007)
Erika Jayne’s first video — 2007’s “Roller Coaster” — was a monumental undertaking, shooting across multiple locations. “I had access to the Stardust, I had access to a Bahamas location — we kind of crafted the story around everything I had access to,” she says. “So it kind of turned out to be this all over the place, extravagant, over-the-top video.”
“It had been quite a while since I had been in front of a camera, but this the rebirth of my career,” explains Girardi, 45. “I had not performed for almost a decade and decided I was going to create on my own with no limits.”
Look at the clip, it’s hard to see how Real Housewives of New York City star Bethenny Frankel could ever call Erika Jayne’s product “cheap” — as she did when she appeared RHOBH in season 6. “Nothing I do is low-budget,” Girardi quips. “I turn out a quality product every time, and I stand by it.”
2. Pretty Mess (2010)
The title track off of Erika Jayne’s debut album came from a poem that Girardi had written and set to music. While it’s music video’s “dark and edgy ’70s hotel after-party vibe” still brings the Bravo star joy, she’s ultimately proud of what the song represents.
“I will always love it and cherish it,” she says. “It describes what we are all — imperfectly perfect.”
The title, “Pretty Mess,” has become a label Girardi wears proudly and something she’s learned to embrace in herself. “As you get life experience and you’re more comfortable in your skin, you start accepting yourself and others as how they really are,” she says. “You have a choice to either be happy or to not be happy, and I choose to be happy.”
“That’s what I do every day,” she adds. “And the key is to surround yourself with people who are supportive and give you that same energy. That’s why it works, that’s why it’s authentic. And that’s why people want to see more of it — because it comes from a very true place.”
3. “PAINKILLR” (2014)
By far her more sexual video, “PAINKILLR” was produced by Girardi herself and shot in half a day. “I had a photoshoot in the morning, and then shot it in the afternoon,” she reveals. “That’s how tight that video was!”
The black-and-white clip shows, among other things, Erika Jayne rolling around a bed in a revealing bodysuit and heels. “I loved every minute of it,” she says. “I think it’s hot. It’s in your face, and gritty — one of my favorites.”
The images no doubt caused many to instantly judge her, but Girardi takes it in stride — something she said comes much easier at her age. “[The criticism] would have had a much bigger impact in my life in my 20s and in my teens,” she says. “If someone had come and said these things to me, I would have actually been hurt. But I know who I am, and I think I’m able to keep things in perspective.”
“This is what I do — it’s not for everybody,” she says. “But I know a lot of people do like it and are inspired by it, so I’m continuing to do it and continuing to be me. And people can like it or not like it or look away or whatever — there’s a lot of stuff out there.”
4. “How Many F—s” (2016)
Warning: This video contains explicit language
By the time Girardi released 2016’s “How Many F—s,” she was already experiencing breakout success on RHOBH. In the long tradition of Housewives tracks like Luann de Lesseps “Girl Code,” the song — and it’s colorful pop video — was a stern reply to those who questions “unbothered” attitude on the show and her decision to stay well beyond any drama her fellow Housewives might have tried to drag her into.
“That’s what everyone should be doing,” she says of staying drama-free. “You should be enjoying yourself. We have one life to live and you should not be bothered. I mean, providing you’re not hurting yourself, you really should not care what anybody else thinks of you. It’s your life, it’s not their life!”
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While Girardi agrees that “everybody likes to watch drama and nobody wants it at home,” she recognizes that it’s hard to do. Just this season she found herself involved in what’s become known as “PantyGate” after not wearing underwear to a party.
“When that happened, I was like ‘Oh s— I know exactly whats happening. I can see the future. This is going to be talked about and talked about and talked about.’ ” But she quickly shakes it off. “The petty things don’t really matter. And now I guess my vagina’s famous!”
So why do her RHOBH costars often get caught up in the drama. “They don’t get it,” she says. “They don’t understand or see the humor in the whole experience. They don’t see the happiness, or enjoying the happiness that should be accompanying this experience. Being on [RHOBH] is a great treat. It’s an incredibly unique experience and that’s what should be remembered. Not that you’re falling out with someone else”
5. “XXPEN$IVE” (2017)
Warning: This video contains explicit language
Erika Jayne’s latest release has everything her fans could want and more — stunning sets, dripping jewels and Jayne striking sultry poses while flaunting her fabulousness.
She described the vibe for the video as, “’80s Miami Scarface meets ’80s Playboy meets strip clubs meets ’80s Ferraris meets everything fabulous in the ’80s — pink, lilac, baby blue — all of that!”
It sure is. Directed by longtime creative director, Mikey Minden with whom she’s been working since 2009, Girardi brought some of the swagger she said she had when she was out partying in the late ’80s.
Her best memory? Heading out to clubs surrounded by stars like Madonna, Mike Tyson, Sean Penn, Slash and Rick James. “Everyone was together,” she recalls. “There wasn’t bottle service and these table that separated you from each other. The music was incredible and everybody celebrating together and getting to know one another.”
So just how hip was Girardi in the ’80s? “I thought I was f—ing fabulous,” she jokes.
Good to see not much has changed.
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills airs Tuesdays (9 p.m. ET) on Bravo.