Dixie's Tupperware Party
Dixie Longate, a lovable redheaded chatterbox from the wrong side of the tracks in Mobile, Alabama, pulled herself out of a trailer park and into the spotlight by selling Tupperware— a product she vows not only changed her life but “changed the world.“ She’s throwing a Tupperware party — a series of parties, actually — at the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater March 15-27. ShowTime’s (if that's the right word) vary, and tickets start at $45.
Dixie’s Tupperware Party can be called many things: a brilliant piece of performance art, a campy satire of suburban salesmanship, or even a poignant homage to the can-do spirit of homemakers who’ve earned financial independence through those brightly hued, lifetime-guaranteed food-storage containers.
But at its tender heart, it’s truly an amped up Tupperware party, hosted by the most outrageous — and successful — “Tupperware lady” who ever convinced an unwitting neighbor that it was absolutely necessary to own a tortilla keeper or a universal peeler.
Yes, there’ll be an order form at your seat.
“Oh, I’m just so excited to be coming to Orlando,” says Dixie from somewhere in Texas, where she’s just finished a show —we mean, a party — and is preparing for yet another the following evening. She’s on the road at least 40 weeks out of the year. “It feels like coming home.
As well it should, since Orlando is home to Tupperware Brands Corporation World Heaquarters. Dixie’s personal role model, the late Brownie Wise, lived in College Park. It was the savvy Wise who persuaded company founder Earl Tupper that he should market his indestructible plastic food containers exclusively through home parties.
But why pay to attend a Tupperware party — especially when you’re likely to spend more money buying Tupperware? Trust us on this one. You’ll be glad you paid to go to this party. Heck, you might even go twice while Dixie’s in town, just for fun.
“People are laughing and having a good time!” says Dixie, who advises that partygoers leave the kids at home since the presentation can get a little, well, PG-13. “Why would anybody bring kids to a Tupperware party anyway? You come to get away from the kids!”
Dixie’s Tupperware Party was written by Los Angeles-based actor Kris Andersson, who bears an eerie resemblance to Dixie — from certain angles, at least. But Dixie describes Kris as “just a dear friend” who helped craft a stage show from her party banter. “He’s such a sweet angel,” she adds.
Dixie began selling Tupperware 14 years ago to “straight Republican white women” because, she says, her parole officer told her she needed a job to get her children back. (She doesn’t say why she had a parole office, and we don’t ask.) She’s been married three times, and is the “sometimes-proud” parent of three children: Wynona, Dwayne and Absorbine Jr.
This much, though, is absolutely true: Dixie is one of the top Tupperware salespeople in the country, and her unique approach, while not specifically endorsed by Tupperware Brands Corporation, is likewise not specifically prohibited. In fact, she says, she has many friends who are Tupperware executives.
Dixie started out doing home parties around Orange County, California. “Unfortunately, I had to leave Alabama,” she says, again alluding to past misbehavior. In her best year, she sold $219,000 worth of merchandise — earning 25 percent commission plus bonuses — and was honored as a top performer during one of the company’s annual jubilees.
In 2004, she premiered a stage version of Dixie’s Tupperware Party at the New York Fringe Festival. By 2008, the show had moved off-Broadway and was nominated for a Drama Desk award.
Since then, Dixie’s been on the road, performing gigs and staying afterward to collect orders and autograph merchandise. (Tupperware party veterans know that typically merchandise is shipped several weeks after orders are placed. Dixie, however, carries an inventory of popular items with her from town to town.
What’s her favorite new Tupperware offering? “I just love the new jello-shot caddy,” she says. “They call it a cupcake caddy, but who’d just use it for cupcakes?”
Partygoers can expect about 90 minutes of Dixie’s sometimes harrowing life story, along with a pep talk and some product demonstrations that may or may not have come from an official Tupperware sales manual.
Audience members — usually willingly — participate. For those intrepid souls who really want to be part of the fun, on-stage seating is being offered.
While most attendees are female, Dixie says, an increasing number of men have been showing up at her parties. After all, she notes, neither fun nor food storage are gender specific.
"Oh, there's no script," adds Dixie, who sounds like Delta Burke on Dexedrine. “It’s a party, for goodness’ sake. You just never know what’s gonna happen. All I know is, everybody’s gonna have a good time!”
In fact, Dixie says her Tupperware parties — all Tupperware parties, really — are about human interaction. That, she adds, is especially important in an era where people can have hundreds of Facebook friends and personally know only a handful of them.
“Everybody loves Tupperware,” she says.
“It’s so fantastic to be able to make people smile and help them with their food-storage needs. I look at Tupperware as the original social network. It’s a thing that brings people together.”
Written by Randy Noles for artsLife.