Looking Chic in Duck Tape

Take 40 roles of duct tape, cut it up and stick it all together, and what have you got?

Well, two Hawaii Baptist Academy seniors did just that and ended up with the stunning prom outfits pictured here. Indeed, their creation wowed judges of Duck Tape brand duct tape’s annual Stuck at Prom contest so thoroughly that out of more than 200 national entries, Kelvin Abe and Kailie Grinder squeaked their way into the top 10 list. Now, it’s up to the public, with visitors to stuckatprom.com allowed one vote per day for your favorite entry. (Who knew you could do such things with duct tape?) Voting ends July 11, with the first place winners and their school each receiving scholarship prizes of $5,000.

Kailie Grinder and Kelvin Abe

Image 1 of 2

Kailie Grinder and Kelvin Abe in the prom outfits they created from Duck Tape brand duct tape. Photo courtesy of Hawaii Baptist Academy.

“I first heard about the contest in middle school and I completely forgot about it until this year when I had to do scholarship research,” says Grinder. Then she sought out artistic friend Abe, and he was game.

Sitting next to their shiny masterpiece laid out on the table, the grads (as of June) pull out their sketchbook to show how it all began. They started with two intricately detailed “looks,” one a more traditional floor-length gown, and the other sort of space-age meets Pocahontas. The renderings might as well be from a haute couture notebook, but the prom couple says they have only taken basic art classes, never in fashion design.

“We wanted something unique, and our art teachers wanted us to take a risk,” says Grinder, so they settled on the second look, a Lady Gaga-inspired concept, with suit shoulders so pointed you can prick your finger on them. The outfits are dominant in navy blue, set off with a red-and-black diamond pattern.

Abe and Grinder share a bit of friendly jousting when it comes to the topic of those 1,000-plus diamonds that they constructed by hand:

“The diamond part was probably the most fun to make,” says Abe. “It was the easiest part.”

“That was fun to you?” retorts Grinder. “That was the hardest part. We had to cut each one out individually, and each one is five layers of duct tape!”

In total – despite the senior load that included track commitments for him, and a mock trial for her – they spent 105 hours, mostly in after-school hours, working on the project, with plenty of fellow seniors and family joining in.

Once they had their outfits down, Abe and Grinder worked on the accessories: a watch, clutch, bouquet, boutonniere, bangles and a ring. In all, they used 11 colors of Duck Tape that includes expected options like Chrome or Electric Blue, but then there’s Hello Kitty and Paint Splatter. Look closely at Grinder’s bouquet (at stuckatprom.com) and you’ll see Hello Kitty roses, cutely fitting for an entry from Hawaii.

When they finally donned their getup for the first time and looked in the mirror …

“My initial thought was I couldn’t breathe,” says Grinder. “I liked the way it looked, but it wasn’t comfortable at all.”

“It was pretty stiff,” agrees Abe. For the rest of us, they are some fantastically spiffy threads.

“It was exciting to see the product of their labor,” says Grinder’s mom Lisa. “They’re both so creative and they worked so hard – it was a labor of love.”


Ducks, geese, a chicken and, of course swans, populate Honk!, a musical tale based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling. The latest from Manoa Valley Theatre isn’t all fluff. Gabriel Wright as a deliciously wicked cat injects it with plenty of fang and claw. This road journey has Ugly (Gerald Mandac) wandering from home, getting lost and encountering an assortment of squawky creatures. Besides the traditional pariah theme, Honk! is also a cautionary tale in which the bogeyman is always lurking, ready to pounce on the unwary chick.

For this heartwarming (but excitingly conflict-ridden) little production, allow me to wax poetic. Honk!, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways: I love the music, directed by Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winning artist Kala’i Stern, with its wind chimes, whistles, bird chirps, flute song and clickety-clackety farmland rambunctiousness. I love the thoughtful touch in having the band and ushers all in plaid and denim. I love the stage with its summer-bright red barn and crisp golden wheat. The costumes are adorable, suggesting ducks, chickens, cats, frogs and more without being corny. The fowl jokes pile up, a plumage of innuendo and double entendre, which makes the show great for kids and appealing to adults too. Oh, and did I mention that bad, bad kitty? His female counterpart (Camila Harris) is pretty cute too, and Suzanne Green shoots off some wry one-liners as the long-suffering mama duck.

The show runs Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinee showings Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m. through July 15. Tickets cost $20-$35. For reservations or more information, call 988-6131.