It’s not too hard to imagine that in Las Vegas there are many different types of jobs surrounding the dance music scene, aside from the big headliners. After all, it’s a city built on entertainment and nightlife. Miz Hyjak (real name Jackie) is a dancer and model, originally from L.A., who has performed possibly all the nighttime jobs Las Vegas has to offer. Her passion, however, is music and dance. I spent a few days in LV to see how, with a little hustle and a true love for the scene, Miz Hyjak turns her love of dance into her livelihood.
Hyjak has been pursuing gogo dancing and other performance theater for a number of years now in Las Vegas, and she’s had a decent amount of success. She’s worked at club Light in the Mirage, has modeled for countless photographers, catalogs and magazines, and most notably, has performed at every EDC since Insomniac moved it to Vegas.
“I danced as a parasol girl the first year,” Hyjak muses about her many EDC performances. “Last year, I was a ‘Golden Girl,’ and I was dressed up like Foxy Cleopatra with Nigel Ficke. The year before that, I was a ‘Roller Girl.’” She finally gives up trying to remember what she did in each one. Between EDCs, she keeps busy with many different gigs, including dancing and crowd-hyping at other festivals and hotel clubs, modeling, DJing, and engaging in art. It seems there are dozens of ways to be creative in Vegas, and Hyjak has done it all.
I arrive in Vegas on a Saturday evening—one that will, unbeknownst to us, mark the end of the controversial Cannabis Cup. The Feds have been threatening the event prior to its launch in the Moapa Valley, just outside of Vegas, but the high winds will end up being the deciding factor. Nonetheless, Miz Hyjak is there to perform at Alex Grey’s Visionary Village as a dancer and fire breather. Grey designed this year’s Cannabis Cup trophy, so Hyjak is excited to be dancing in his display with one of her favorite groups, Instrumental Bodies. She does some burlesque-style fan dancing with two other dancers and attempts to do some fire breathing, but wind quickly puts an end to it.
“I’m not formally trained; I just love to move to music.”
Hyjak is happy to reflect on all the dancers she’s seen at the Cup, some who first inspired her to try her hand at gogo dancing. “It was so fun getting up onstage with the girls I looked up to when I started—Mayhar, who’s in charge of Instrumental Bodies; Bambu, who really got me started; Saturn and Jesabella Marie—all really inspired me. It was a great sort of reunion.” The scene at the Cannabis Cup is beautiful but messy, with sand flying everywhere but lots of cool art, music and other displays. Even though the event is cut short, Hyjak goes out to the site on Sunday and helps the team break down.
Later on Sunday evening, I go to Church, a small monthly event thrown by Hyjak and her husband, DJ Johnny McNazty. Hyjak is a DJ herself, but she is not playing this evening. “I’m excited to be playing at the World of Drum & Bass show next week for my 30th birthday, but tonight I’m just getting body-painted,” says Hyjak, already neck-deep in paint. Body paint is another of the many and sundry creative jobs Hyjak engages in—sometimes painting, sometimes being painted. Tonight, artist Scott See is really just practicing, creating a sort of Chinese-inspired lingerie piece on Hyjak’s body. Once it’s done, she doesn’t look nude at all. She’s technically not, anyway, as she sports a pair of boy shorts and self-made pasties. When she’s done, Hyjak runs around greeting people as McNazty and the Gone Jahmen Crew perform jungle, dubstep and trap. Later at the after-party, she finally gets sick of having no clothes, borrowing a pair of shorts and a T-shirt from the headlining DJ, NLIC.
Monday, Hyjak has a photo shoot. She does these quite often and has modeled for a number of different magazines and clothing lines, but today’s shoot is different for a couple of reasons. The most notable is the photographer, Albert Navarro II. He is a recognized art photographer in Las Vegas, and really, the world at large. His latest book, Bodyscapes—The Art of Sensual Light, released in March 2015 and is a black-and-white life study of the human body. They’re nude photos, yes, but in the most artistic and beautiful sense.
On this shoot, Navarro has Hyjak posing for a new book project—similar to the last, but with graphics superimposed over the subject’s body. It sort of looks like body painting, but the way Navarro works with the light, it’s also meant to be an optical illusion.
“Jackie is one of my favorite models to work with,” Navarro says as Hyjak tries out different poses and he focuses the projector to fit on her body. “Because she’s a dancer, she knows her body really well and moves into picture-perfect poses as a natural thing. I don’t have to do much.” Indeed, throughout the shoot, Hyjak is constantly moving, drawing shapes with her arms and legs and stretching into positions only dancers and yogis can get into. “I’m not formally trained,” she’s quick to point out. “I just love to move to music.”
Moving is what Hyjak seems to do best, whether it’s dancing or moving effortlessly throughout the scene, booking gigs left and right, or practicing any number of her crazy passions like fire-breathing or stilt-walking. Even her face is always moving, as she’s one of the most animated people on the Las Vegas scene and has the perfect expression for every photo. She works tirelessly both in front of and behind the scenes to give partiers in Vegas the best experience possible, all while having endless fun herself. It takes a huge work ethic to accomplish what Miz Hyjak has, but she truly is a visual installation in Vegas and in the dance scene. Say hi to her at the next EDC, if you can recognize her through the makeup.