Seeing Stars With Erika Jayne: An Interview With the ‘RHOBH’ Dance Diva
There's really no argument: Erika Jayne was, without a doubt, the breakout star of Season 6 of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
A very pink, very sparkly and very blonde flurry of epic eye-rolls, fierce, meme-generating dance moves and countless private jet rides, the emerging Bravolebrity gave RHOBH's reigning Queen Bee Lisa Vanderpump a run for her enigma-and-riddle-wrapped cash. She also put all those other Housewives-turned-pop-hopefuls to shame (looking at you, Melissa Gorga), because Erika Jayne ain't no one-hit Auto-Tune wonder: she's a bona fide dance-pop star, with a slew of Billboard No. 1 Dance hits to back it up.
From her saccharine 2007 disco-lite jam "Stars" to 2016's bombastic urban-pop anthem "How Many F--ks," Erika has proven her dance diva chops year after year, making her a pop star first and a reality TV star second, despite what the naysayers may try to tell you.
Hot on the heels of this princess/temptress/pretty mess's latest candy-coated video release, I spoke to the jet-setting, puss-patting, glam squad-toting singer about who her pop icons are, how not all fans are created equal, and her reaction to watching Christina Aguilera release her inner Erika Jayne.
When you joined Housewives I didn't realize that it was you at first. You’re all over my iPod. "Stars" is actually one of my favorite dance songs ever.
That makes me happy! I was looking at that the other day and it really is a nice little feel-good record, isn't it?
I do love it. It has a cool, classic dance sound to it, and it has aged really well over the past few years it's been out there. It fits in well on a playlist alongside Kylie, Madonna, and Sophie Ellis-Bextor.
Well, those are great names to be in company with, so thank you.
I want to talk a little bit about Housewives. Everyone has been saying that you've been the breakout star of the show this season, and I have to agree. As a longtime RHOBH viewer, it's been refreshing to watch you come in and shake it up. You’re almost a voice of reason.
All you can really be in these situations is yourself. And it's true, I had never watched Housewives before I was on the show, and going into the experience was very “what you see is what you get.” You're actually watching the experience for the first time. What you’re seeing is me reacting authentically to the situations unfolding.
And what do you think when you hear people call you the breakout of the show?
It's always nice to be complimented and to have people appreciate your performance, for lack of a better word. It's nice to see that people were entertained and found me funny and they enjoyed the journey with me.
When you joined, were you aware of any of the other Housewives’, uh, musical endeavors?
Yes, of course! I had heard of “Don't Be Tardy For the Party.” I was aware that one of Housewives had released it.
Is there one you would say is your favorite?
Um, I'm always going to say my music is my favorite. [Laughs]
Fair enough. Speaking of your music, what was your reaction to that video of Christina Aguilera lip syncing to "How Many F---s"? Because, that was amazing.
Well, isn't that the ultimate compliment to have this incredible artist, and one of the true voices of our era, singing along to my song? It doesn't get much better than that, really.
And how on point with the message! She really is one of those artists who continues to do her thing and enjoys what she does and makes the music she wants to make. You two should collaborate!
My god, I wish.
I'm going to will it into existence for you. Now, I know the LGBT community is super important to you. How has that community had a positive impact on your life or your career?
I grew up with gay family members, and I went to a performing arts high school. So I grew up in children's theater, musical theater, and all of my life has been around the LGBT community. It's a natural progression for me to be there [now]. They’re people that I've loved all my entire life, and I was fortunate enough that my record found a home in that community and they've been supportive of me, as I have been of them.
Through your music, what do you hope to be or represent for that community in return?
[I want to represent] freedom; the courage to be yourself and to know you are perfect just the way you were meant to be.
I’ve heard you mention that you can be a little guarded. At the same time your alter-ego, if you want to call her that, is so open and bold. How do you balance that juxtaposition?
A performance is simply that: a performance. What I sing about as I'm performing, that's the place where you should be free and vulnerable. Obviously in your personal private life you're very vulnerable, and open to your family members and the ones who are closest to you. But then in other situations you have to be a bit more guarded, even when there's the best of intent. That's true in any career and for any person, man or woman.
I think it’s cool how authentic and healthy your actual friendships on Housewives seem. It doesn't look like you're trying to force friendship where it clearly doesn't exist.
True friendship or true respect is earned. It's not given. You create real friendships through a growth process. It's not just, oh hi, we're friends! That’s very childlike. True adult friendships take time, understanding, and it's a plant that needs to be watered and tended to so that it blossoms.
I know you’ve been very open about combating ageism in music. You’re 44 and create the music you want to create, and put on very sexually empowered performances. Yet there are ridiculous double standards thrown on women artists, like Madonna and Cher, when no one has anything to say about the Keith Richardses or Mick Jaggers.
You have Gwen, Jennifer Lopez... Look, no one needs to tell anyone their time is up. It's not fair to do to a woman. You have to encourage each other. You should create for as long as you possibly can and give for as long as you possibly can.
Now that your music has achieved a broader platform with the show, do you hope you can challenge those norms?
For sure. I think as more women see that there are women out there building vibrant and creative and powerful lives and careers in their 40s, 50s, etc., then these older views of ageism will fall away. That's really what needs to happen. Yes, of course I would love to be able to encourage just one person to continue to be their most beautiful, powerful self into their 40s and 50s.
Do you think people in general are too hard on one another?
There isn't enough empathy in the world in all areas.
I love this real talk, but let’s lighten things back up a little: What music did you grow up listening to?
Madonna, Prince, and Michael Jackson. Two out of the three of my idols are gone!
What’s on your playlist these days? What are you listening to?
You know, I’m in the studio tonight so honestly what I've been doing is practicing on my own music. But I’m always skipping through every channel, whether it be radio, Sirius, Spotify...
You mentioned you were in the studio… Are you working on a new album? It's been a while.
I’m working on... songs. I don’t know if I’m after an album, but I’m after a bunch of songs. A bunch of good songs. I don’t know if that makes any sense!
Since "How Many F--ks" came out a few weeks ago, can you talk about the inspiration behind that video? I’m obsessed with the aesthetic.
It's an homage to the ‘90s! I think especially I love the white and gold looks. Those are colors that I really enjoy. [The video] combines urban style, fashion, dance, and music. It's basically about having fun with it. There’s a lot of influences going on in there.
In honor of your latest single, we’re going to play a little game called “How Many F---s Does Erika Jayne Give?” Basically, I’ll throw out topics and then you'll tell me, on a scale from zero to ten (zero being none and ten being, like, a lot) how many you-know-whats you give. Ready?
Let’s do it!
How many f--ks does Erika Jayne give about... rumors?
Eight… Because it’s so important.
Good fans get a ten, bad fans get a zero.
Oh, what makes a bad fan?
Sometimes people expect you to be something that you're not or want you to be something that is out of your philosophy, yet they claim they are a fan. Like, “I'm really your fan, but you should get a nose job!” That's not really a fan. That's a bad fan, they get a zero. Good fans who appreciate the material and have fun, they get a ten.
Hmmm, but when am I looking cute? All the time? When I'm working?
When you're working.
That's a ten.
And when you’re relaxing?
Like... a three. [Laughs]
Finally, what other people think?
Oh, that’s easy: Zero!