Graduate student Jordan Frand designed two accessories a drag queen can use on stage to make a unique performance

A drag queen might operate in multiple different roles at once during a performance. She’s expected to show off an innovative wardrobe, manage her own makeup and experiment with accessories. Aside from looks, she’s supposed to sing, dance, act and model. With these unique stage performances in mind, Jordan Frand, a graduate student in NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, developed the Kallomanical Wearable Expression Enhancement Network (K.W.E.E.N) for his thesis project.

The K.W.E.E.N project is made up of two pieces: a thermochromic wig and conductive nails. The wig allows the wearer to slowly change its color, from hot pink to powdery pastel, using a heating carbon fiber tape. The carbon fiber tape is covered by kapton tape, which allows electricity to flow into the wig but keeps the heat insulated so as not to harm the wearer. To hide the mechanism, Frand made the wig into a braid.

The conductive nails allow the performer to control the stage lights with eight triggers to highlight different angles. The wearer can change the lighting by touching each nail to her thumb. Micro-controllers, worn as bracelets on both arms, send out signals to the lights through low-energy Bluetooth signals.

Frand focused on giving the performer flexibility while on stage and making the tools customizable. As research in the development of his designs, Frand asked drag queens and others about people who inspired them at a young age and found that many of the characters mentioned had superpowers. Frand determined the effects of K.W.E.E.N. with this idea of superpowers in mind. He also prioritized simplicity—the wig and nails are easy to put on and incorporate into an performance.

Jordan Frand | ITP NYU

A drag queen might operate in multiple different roles at once during a performance. She’s expected to show off an innovative wardrobe, manage her own makeup and experiment with accessories. Aside from looks, she’s supposed to sing, dance, act and model. With these unique stage performances in mind, Jordan Frand, a graduate student in NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, developed the Kallomanical Wearable Expression Enhancement Network (K.W.E.E.N) for his thesis project.