Stage preview: Dixie promises a bawdy good time at her 'Party' at CLO Cabaret
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Much like the Tupperware she sells, Dixie Longate's can-do spirit is guaranteed not to chip, crack, break or peel when used properly, and her words come in a rainbow of colors, many of them shades of blue.
Y'all know what Tupperware is, right? Before store shelves were lined with similar products, the plastic containers with the "burping seal" became household mainstays after their 1946 introduction. In the 1950s, the company pioneered the idea of parties as a direct marketing strategy -- "the first social network," Dixie calls the parties. The company also held lavish jubilees to celebrate the sales success of Tupperware ladies such as Dixie in the postwar business world.
If Dixie's a throwback, well, don't tell her or the partygoers at her events worldwide.
Kris Andersson began selling Tupperware on a dare in 2001, and by 2004 he had transformed into big-haired, trashy, brassy Alabaman Dixie Longate -- at the time, one of the top three sellers in the country, a company spokeswoman said. After making a splash at the New York Fringe Festival, "Dixie's Tupperware Party" became a bawdy staged event that's made its way up and down both coasts and into the CLO Cabaret for six weeks.
In the world according to Dixie, a Tupperware cupcake carrier made from "the best food storage crap on the planet" is the perfect size to hold Jell-O shots.
She admits that some women aren't quite ready for the language she's dishing in a deep Southern drawl. She's heard a few, " 'Oh my Lord, I have the vapors!' " from women clutching at their pearls. "But I say get ready to come on in and just have a good time."
Here are more words of wisdom from a conversation with Dixie:
What would you tell generations of young people who have not grown up with Tupperware?
Not only is it the best, it's an originator, and everybody else just copied it. The best thing about it, to me, when you go to a Tupperware party, it's like the first social network. This is the way people got together and they would talk and commiserate with each other, because it started right after [World War II], and it was an opportunity to party, to have a good time. Now when you ask someone about their Tupperware, they can always tell you where they got it, where the party was, who the host was, and they remember it so much differently than just going to the store and grabbing something off the shelf. It's the only kitchenware thing that people have a connection to in that way.
Did you have a connection to Tupperware growing up?
You know, I did! My momma went to parties all the time, and I didn't know it was Tupperware. Once I started selling, I realized, why, I had that growing up in the trailer. I did not even know! It snuck up on me.
Why did you choose selling Tupperware as a career?
I got out of prison, and my parole officer said, you should probably do this. I needed a job to get my kids back, and there were certain things I couldn't do because I had restraining orders and everything. So I said, 'OK, OK, let me try Tupperware,' I did my first party and I had so much fun and I got free drinks! Then it just took off. It was kind of an interesting thing to go to parties and watch people react.
Then I went to the Jubilee, the big Tupperware convention, and that roped me in, 'cause I saw all of these ladies going up on stage and have people in the audience who screamed and cheered for them. ... It was kind of a defining moment for me. I said, I'm going to be up on that stage and be recognized, and that kept me going.
I know you have discovered different uses for Tupperware that aren't the traditional uses we think of ...
It's funny, I did not know Tupperware was for the kitchen for the first two years of selling. There's this great thing you put a cereal in that's apparently called the Cereal Storer, but I would put in condoms for the weekend and put them right under the bed, so I was always prepared. ... And then someone said put cereal in there and I did and it stays fresh and I love it. There are so many uses. I use my Jell-O-shot caddy -- people use it for cupcakes, I use it to take Jell-O shots to church.
Who is your typical woman, or man, who is a customer in 2012?
Of course if you want something for the kitchen, it's good for that, but it's for anybody who wants to come have a good time and laugh and let their hair down. It's true, a lot of ladies come because there's always that connection with Tupperware ... and with all these ladies around, it's a great place for guys. Food storage solutions are for people who want to have a better lifestyle all the way around.
What's it like holding a party in such large spaces?
Even when I've done parties in living rooms, it was common there were 40 or 50 people jammed in a space because they were like, we want to laugh and have a good time. The regular Tupperware parties tend to be a little quieter, a little more reserved. I say let's blow it out; the more the merrier. I've done shows for as many as 2,500 people at a time, and that's a little dicey, because then people way far in the back can't see the fantastic plastic crap. That's why space like the cabaret space is just perfect. We're all going to laugh and have a collective experience.
Where have you been to sell Tupperware?
I have been all over the U.S. I've done a lot on the East Coast and a lot in the South, and then I've been to Can-ay-dia and Lon-don and to Australia, and it looks like we're going back to Australia next year. For someone from Mobile, Ala., to talk about all these places, it's amazing.
Are people ever taken aback by the different uses you have for Tupperware? Do people share their own uses?
People share stuff all the time. And you know, it's 2012, and I'm not talking about anything you don't know anyway. I don't mean to offend nobody. I'm just a girl from Mobile, Ala., and when I open my mouth, things come out. Just brace yourself and prepare for it. It's all good family entertainment because I'm talking about the best crap on the planet, that's been around for 65 years.
Have you ever been to Pittsburgh before?
This is my very first time, I'm so excited. This is our fifth season on the road with the show, and we're doing a lot of repeat markets because a lot of the markets have said we had so much fun we want to get Dixie back and I'm like, hell yeah, I'm coming. But Pittsburgh is a brand-new city, and we'll be there for six weeks. The nice thing is, when I get to go to someplace for a while, I just like to get to lost in the city and learn and explore. ... I've heard so many wonderful things, I just can't wait.
First Published September 5, 2012 12:00 am