Erika Jayne, known best as the singer, actress and no-nonsense personality on Bravo's "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," has resurfaced in the headlines lately — but this time, it's not for sparring with Lisa Vanderpump.
In November, Jayne, 49, announced that she would file for divorce from her husband, 81-year-old powerbroker attorney Tom Girardi, after 21 years of marriage, citing irreconcilable differences. Girardi has been in legal hot water with former clients who claim to have been bilked out of millions in settlement money. “At one point I had about 80 million or 50 million in cash. That’s all gone,” Girardi acknowledged in testimony this fall. “I don’t have any money.”
As The Times' Matt Hamilton and Harriet Ryan reported on Thursday, "Where all the money went remains a topic of intense speculation, and neither Jayne nor Girardi’s representatives responded to requests for comment. Some creditors have pointed to his much younger wife. Girardi has underwritten Jayne’s attempts at fame as a recording artist with songs titled 'PAINKILLR' and 'XXpen$ive' and as a reality TV figure who boasts of dropping $40,000 a month on clothes, hair and makeup."
The two met when Jayne, then a single mom at 28, was working as a cocktail waitress at Chasen's in West Hollywood, at which Girardi was a regular. After playing the role of a high-profile lawyer's wife, Jayne launched a successful career as an electro-pop diva; she would spend the latter 2000s and 2010s cranking out house hits like "Pretty Mess" and "How Many F—," which climbed to No. 1 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart. She'd tallied seven of her nine total No.1 club hits before joining the cast of "Real Housewives" in 2015. "Some people call me cold," she says in the show's intro reel. "But that's not ice — that's diamonds."
The "Real Housewives" franchise has a storied history of stars with vanity pop projects. Few can forget "Tardy for the Party," the 2009 novelty banger by Atlanta alumna Kim Zolciak, which was produced by her co-star, Grammy-winning R&B songstress Kandi Burruss; then came 2010's "Money Can't Buy You Class," a crash course on New York high society, from the former countess Luann de Lesseps.
Yet unlike the other women from "Housewives," the Jayne train never really slowed down. In 2018 she published a tell-all titled "Pretty Mess," which became a New York Times bestseller; and in early 2020, she played Roxie Hart in the Broadway production of "Chicago."
Here's a quick overview of Jayne's musical oeuvre:
"Roller Coaster" (2007)
Beginner's luck? The singer's first single, "Roller Coaster," hit No. 1 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart — the first of nine songs to top the chart. Fill it up, smoke it up, pump it up.
"Pretty Mess" (2010)
Despite her club fame, Jayne doesn't sing so much as she purrs; and in "Pretty Mess," the title track of her 2009 debut LP, she assures her fans that if she's a joke, she's already in on it. ("Everything I am, I bought," she moans in the racy video.) The album also features Sheila E., who is credited as a drummer on the track “Time to Realize," as well as producers and co-writers Peter Rafelson and Eric Kupper, who had previously worked with pop legends Madonna, Britney Spears and Cher.
"Party People (Ignite the World)" (2011)
Then president of the Italian American Lawyers Assn., Tom Girardi infamously premiered the music video for "Party People (Ignite the World)" during the group's annual Supreme Court Night in 2011. The partygoers, many prestigious members of the Southern California legal community, were not so pleased. According to an account published in the Metropolitan News-Enterprise, one described Jayne's provocative dance routine as "rock and soft porn."
"Get It Tonight" feat. Flo Rida (2013)
By the end of the 2000s, house music proved to be a boon for rapper Flo Rida, who made dance-pop gold with Kesha on "Right Round" and "Feel It" with DJ Felli Fel, Pitbull, Sean Paul and T-Pain. Neither Rida nor Jayne saw as much success with their joint single, but at least they'll always have the memories.
"How Many F—" (2016)
A "Hollaback Girl" for the nouveau riche, "How Many F—" sounds like it was specially designed in a lab to be lip-synced to on "RuPaul's Drag Race." It also happened to be Jayne's first release since making a splashy entrance on "Real Housewives" — and it drips with both bubblegum and venom.
Jayne is the first to attest in the profanity-filled video: "It's expensive to be me." Said Tom Girardi in an episode of "Real Housewives," "I like the fact that it's named 'XXpen$ive.'" He added, rather presciently: "It kinda suits you."
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.