By Guest Contributor, Robin
Full disclosure: I read other Housewives blogs. (Editors Note: BLASPHEMY!) Don’t worry. I am still a Tamara Tattles loyalist. But reading Brian Moylan’s recaps of the Housewives shows on Vulture is one of my favorite ways to kill time. They almost always make me laugh out loud. And I also love Erika Jayne. So when I found out that he was writing a book with her, I pre-ordered it from Amazon.
It pains me to say that I am disappointed. (HA!) I don’t know what I was expecting. Juicy gossip? Glamour? Maybe some insight into who Erika really is? There is none of that in this book. It is very dry, like reading the journal of a really boring person.
When Erika was growing up in Georgia, her mother was a piano teacher. Her mother didn’t have the patience to teach Erika, who learned by ear. Erika, who loved to sing, dance and perform, sought out every opportunity to be on stage. She was obsessed with glitter, wigs and heels from a very early age. She auditioned for her local public school’s performing arts high school and was accepted. She wasn’t a great student and struggled with academics. She came very close to not graduating.
Erika’s dad disappeared when she was young and she had a rocky relationship with her mother. Her grandmother was her main caretaker. Erika has always called her mother Renee and seems to have more of a sister relationship than mother-daughter. Her mother married a guy who owned a car dealership and then they divorced, then remarried again! They ended up divorcing again and it was ugly. Her stepfather had adopted her and they fought over custody of Erika. When she was older, she went outside to tell her stepfather she didn’t want to go with him for visitation and he tried to drag her into the car. This led to a physical fight between her mother and stepfather.
Erika and her mother moved to New York when Erika was 18. Erika found work as a go-go dancer. Today, Erika and Tom park their private plane at Teterboro airport right across from Erika’s old bar.
Erika ended up getting married young and got pregnant very quickly. Her ex-husband (Also named Tom) is hardly mentioned in this book. There’s no real story of falling in love or a dramatic breakup. He is a minor character. Erika was steadily working in NYC. She played a dead person on an early episode of Law and Order. (Trust me, I am keeping my eye out for her in reruns.) Her career never really took off, but it seems like she worked hard.
As we saw on the show last season, she did connect with her dad as an adult and he made the comment to her, “My wife and I never had kids.” That was pretty painful to read, but like everything else in the book, Erika kind of plays it off as no big deal.
When her son was very young, Erika decided to move to L.A. Her son stayed in New York with her ex-husband. This too is played as no big deal. Erika says that she flew back and forth for every parent teacher conference, every play, every soccer game.
She was working as a waitress at a fancy restaurant when she met Tom Girardi. She asked him when he was going to ask her out. He got her phone number and had his assistant call to ask her out. She refused and said Tom needed to call himself. He did.
Erika wasn’t allowed to date customers, so they kept their relationship a secret. Then one day, Tom asked Erika to quit her job and she did. They got married at the LA Country Club by a friend of Tom’s. Robert Baker, who defended OJ in his civil trial, was one witness. They needed another so Tom pulled a friend off the golf course to be the second witness. Tom does not wear a wedding ring. He says it is uncomfortable. It is not a big deal to Erika and she says she doesn’t wear hers all the time, but she hears about it on social media when she doesn’t. She and Tom do not have a prenup. “Mr. Girardi knows the law so well that a prenup is not going to do shit,” she says.
Tom encouraged Erika to pursue her Erika Jayne concept, which has obviously paid off very well for her. Erika is very deliberate in her choices and is always looking for ways to “pivot” her career and find new opportunities.
One of her new opportunities came from Bravo. As Erika describes it, she was sitting with her friend Yolanda who was wearing her bathrobe and fighting lyme disease when Yolanda suggested Erika be on the show. Erika had a contract and was filming within days. She says that she was so excited about the opportunity that she never even read her contract.
One thing that really struck me about Erika in this book is that she has quite the temper. She says that even though the adults her life didn’t talk like that, she grew up telling everyone to fuck off. She could be very violate in her relationships. She said that Tom helped her understand that just lashing out at people can cause irreparable harm to relationships and that she is now more careful about what she says and how she treats people. She said she has never really let that side of herself out on the Housewives because she can’t control it once she gets started. I think we saw a peek of that last season and maybe this season with Teddi.
Overall, this book was a true snoozefest. I do think that the real Erika is just a simple person who enjoys spending time with her son and her husband. Erika Jayne is just a persona that brings in the cash.