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Erika Jayne’s new reality: A fiery show at House of Blues

Updated August 27, 2023 - 2:47 pm

A day after her opening night on the Strip, and deep into an on-stage chat at House of Blues, Erika Jayne makes sense of what seems senseless.

“Let me tell you something, people like to dump on reality TV, but you never know who’s watching,” the co-star of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” says. “You reach an audience, and you don’t know who identifies with you. People turn on the show to decompress, and it draws an eclectic audience.”

That audience chanted “Er-I-Ka! Er-I-Ka!” as Jayne opened her “Bet It All On Blonde” production, turning the Mandalay Bay music hall into a party pit. The gambling reference works for Jayne, age 52, neatly matching the number of cards in a deck. Originally a recording artist, Jayne taking her fame from”RHOBH” and letting it ride.

“Erika Jayne existed, before ‘Housewives,’” Jayne says. “And ‘Housewives’ gave me a platform to do this show. So I’m perfectly content marrying those two.”

Jayne says her life has often felt “overwhelming” in recent years. The beauty of reality TV is your reality sort of belongs to everyone. That has been the case for Jayne. Three years ago she filed for divorce from Tom Girardi, her 84-year-old husband of 20 years. His business dealings came under heavy scrutiny, he was disbarred, faces a battery of lawsuits and was diagnosed with dementia.

Jayne has reset her life and career, setting up a 12-show residency on the Strip, continuing through September and back for two weekends in December.

Asked if there is anything she wants to set straight from her series of personal crises, the reality star says, “I don’t need to straighten out anything. How I feel today, I’m very grateful. I’m thankful that I’m in this position to even be talking to you and to even have this residency.”

Jayne joined “RHOBH” eight years ago. Her recording career started eight years before that. She has scored nine singles on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play chart. She’s been a hit on the club circuit in New York, Chicago, Mykonos and now Vegas. Friday’s show was her first public performance in three years.

“I felt nerves, but the good kind,” Jayne says. “I was like, ‘Oh (expletive), come on, Erika. Give these people a good show.’”

The “Bet It All On Blonde” production features Jayne at the center of a series of wild production numbers. She’s mostly in snug, sparkly bodysuits. She grooves up a storm with four backing dancers, two backing singers with video flashing from the LED panel behind the stage. The show makes effective use of the stage’s architecture. Its tall staircase as a hint of “Lido de Paris.”

That show is a sentimental favorite of Jayne’s ever since her mom, brought home a “Lido” program from a show at the Stardust. “When I saw those showgirls, I knew what I wanted to do that,” she says.

Thus inspired, Jayne’s Vegas show is very dance-centric, musically tracked with a half-million-dollar sound system installed to shake up the joint.

Jayne cranks up the adrenaline by pacing the show quickly, in five acts: “Fantasy/Glamour,” “Glitz,” “Escape,” “Love” and “Fun.” She uncorks her own “Rollercoaster,” “Get it Tonight” (the collab with Flo Rida) and “Pretty Mess” fan favorites alongside refashioned covers of “Material Girl,” “Ladies Night,” and “Leave The Door Open.”

It’s a show that is grown-up, though all ages are allowed. Some familiar songs have profanity built right in, as callbacks to the crowd. Jayne’s stage outfits are for mature audiences, too.

The show is filmed by a Bravo crew. Expect more reality from Jayne, but not for the hit TV show.

“We are documenting the entire process, ‘Bet It All On Blonde,’ outside of ‘Housewives,’” Jayne says. “I probably shouldn’t be saying that, but I just did. There is a great project in the works around here.”

The Vegas connections abound. Jayne smiles when told the show “Chicago” performed just around the corner at Mandalay Bay Theater, where “Michael Jackson One” is staged today. It was the first stage show at the resort. Jayne played the role of Roxie Hart in the musical on Broadway.

The production manager is Kevin Sucher, our friend from the Notoriety Live yacht-rock band The Docksiders. He’s been pulled back onto the craft, as it were, to oversee Jayne’s new show. 

Jayne’s sense of Vegas dates even to her days as a schoolgirl, when she was assigned to write a report on her favorite city. She picked Las Vegas, because of her mother’s “Lido” program. Her mom, Renee Chahoy, watched the opening-night performance a day after her 70th birthday. The party was at House of Blues, between rehearsals.

“My mother was my first choreographer, manager, makeup artist, producer, since I started performing as a child,” Jayne says. “The whole idea of performing, or being on TV is overwhelming at times, and you look for peace in your family. When I am with her, I can really relax.”

Cool Hang Alert

He’s a fierce musician and a great man. And Anthony “A.J.” Johnson needs a lift. The bassist who founded The Funk Jam weekly musical experience at Sand Dollar Lounge a decade ago is battling multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood. The entertainment community is turning out for a night of music at 10 p.m. Wednesday at The Copa at Bootlegger Bistro. Johnson is still in the band at “Kyle Martin’s Piano Man” at V Theater at Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood. Go to the Cure for A.J. Facebook page for info.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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