Madly searching for something to get me to sleep as I rocked and rolled on the choppy Arctic Sea, Erika Girardi of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills came to mind. I find her interesting and distracting..
Some 20 years ago she was a single mom in LA, cocktail waitressing at a high end restaurant to make ends meet. Tom Girardi was the famous lawyer from the Erin Brockovich case. After she’d known and observed him a year, she slipped him a note and six months later they were married.
Rolling in the dough
He was rolling in the dough, which had to be heady stuff for this woman who was 32 years younger. Did she set out to marry a rich guy? It’s a dream many young women in LA have and no doubt, she had it, too. She wasn’t getting very far trying to be an actress. So Tom must’ve looked like a good option. A secure one.
They lived ostentatiously. She had more than a few nips and tucks and pretty much transformed herself from a plain jane to a flashy, hot blonde. Not your typical lawyer’s wife. She hadn’t lost her drive to perform and when a music producer suggested changing her name to Erika Jayne, her recording and dance club persona was born. She had a couple dance club hits, starting in 2007.
So did she take advantage of Tom? I’d say they both got what they wanted. He had a hot young wife on his arm, and nothing validates an Italian man more than that. Believe me, I know. I am an Italian woman. And she got financial security and the ability to bring a performing career to life. It was an even trade. We don’t like to think of relationships like that, but sometimes they are just that transactional. I don’t judge that. Very few get the fairy tale love.
A star is born. Sort of.
In 2015, Erika joined the Beverly Hills housewife show, which gave her the platform to kick up her club career in earnest. Larger than life and a little stand-offish at first, she became the brashest personality on set. And yet, there was something I liked about her.
She was well armored. A much younger, pretty wife to a rich, powerful man? I’m sure she had to be. She brought that armor and “best defense is a good offense” to the show in the beginning. At that time she admitted it was hard for her to have friends. Trust issues. And I don’t think we saw a single outside friend of hers during the show.
But over time she attached to the housewives group, despite the usual feuds that misogynist Andy Cohen think make good TV.
The problem with Italian men
Tom Girardi made a few appearances on the show and during one, he told her to shut up since he was speaking. Yeah, I’ve seen Italian men do that kind of denigration of women plenty of times. So Erika’s wifely duty wasn’t all peaches and cream. I’d say she was rightly compensated. Plus, as it turns out, he had a paramour. A judge, of all things, to whom he gave extravagant gifts and large checks. Yes, Tom was a type, alright.
Meanwhile, Erika was going about her business, wearing skintight latex couture, paying her glam squad some $40k a month and appearing at dance clubs. The show was a great springboard for her revived career.
Then, the bottom fell out. Erika filed for divorce. Tom, we find out, was using settlement money meant for clients to fund their lifestyle. Millions and millions. Busted! And all of a sudden, he was in a memory home for Alzheimer patients. Does he really have dementia? Who knows. In photos, he does have that confused look Alzheimer patients often get. Could be faking. But it sure would be a tough life sentence for someone without it to live in a home among only others who had it. Maybe worse than prison.
No, she shouldn’t have known. No, she was not complicit.
As this plays out, clueless housewives and members of the public think Erika is complicit in the wrongdoing that was part of Tom’s legal practice. Well, this is annoying. I am the wife of a lawyer. I have absolutely no involvement in his cases. I do not know how he makes his money except that he is paid by his law firm. I do not ask him if it is ethical. (I know it is ethical.) I’m sure Erika didn’t think Tom was ripping off his clients and his firm. I’m sure she never gave it a thought. Why would she?
The rush to judgment is predictable. But she was blameless. He was known to make a boatload of dough. Why would she dig any deeper? Would you? And if you say “yes,” you’re kidding yourself.
And so the case is making its way through the court system. Looks like he took a whole bunch of money that was meant for the proverbial “widows and orphans.” Tom did that, not Erika. I don’t believe Erika had any idea.
Bet it All on Blonde
As the judicial system churns along Erika has gotten a “residency” in Las Vegas for her new stage show, Bet it All On Blonde. It runs a few days a week from late August into December. I’m sure it will do well. I’d see it if it were convenient.
Girl’s not afraid of hard work. It takes a lot to put a show together and prepare to perform, so props to her.
She’s also been seen in the company of another older, married lawyer. This one’s got a bit of a shady past. She claims they’re just friends. Who knows? Old habits are hard to break. Maybe she feels she doesn’t deserve a good man. Maybe she doesn’t know how to be with one. Life can jade you, you know. Maybe she just doesn’t believe in love.
I like Erika. I don’t know her, but I like her. And if I were a betting woman? I’d bet it all on blonde.