Ever-so-smartly combining her expertise in Tupperware selling and her deep-seeded need to be on a stage, Dixie Longate will be bringing her DIXIE'S TUPPERWARE PARTY to the Kirk Douglas Theatre November 28 through December 30. I had the chance to chat with Dixie on her arduous path from parole to being an awarded Tupperware Lady.
Thank you for taking time out of your Tupperware selling for this interview with me, Dixie!
How long have you been a Tupperware Lady?
I started selling Tupperware 17 years years ago as part of the conditions of my parole.
What first motivated you to become a Tupperware Lady?
My parole officer told me I needed a job in order to get my kids back. I thought to myself, "Damn it!" The law! Argh. But she suggested that I start selling Tupperware. I did my first party after she lifted the restraining order and had so much fun drinking and showing people these creative food storage solutions that I thought, "I could do this forever." Then I went to my first "Jubilee," the annual Tupperware convention. I saw all of these amazing ladies being recognized onstage for their accomplishments and I knew I wanted to be on stage getting recognized too. 17 years later, I have been on that stage at the convention many times, and all of the warmth and good wishes I get from that celebration keep me going all year long.
How closely do you have to adhere to Tupperware's corporate rules in selling their product? Is there much more leeway now in 2018 than there was when you first started?
The thing that is pretty impressive about Tupperware is that they have this great business model that is a framework. They encourage you to drape whatever kind of fantastic, fun party over that frame work and go for it. Everyone at Tupperware corporate has been overwhelmingly kind and supportive throughout the years.
How close have you ever been to being awarded a pink Cadillac?
No! That's Mary Kay.
Oops! My bad!
I have gotten plenty of awards for all of my achievements at Tupperware, but the classic Pink Cadillac is definitely a signature of Mary Kay.
Describe the light bulb moment of you first coming up with the idea of turning a Tupperware party into a one-woman stage show?
I had been doing parties for years in people's living rooms. A director friend of mine from NYC saw me at a party and was having so much fun that he said to me, "You should put this on stage. There is a real show here." I thought he was just being neighborly so that he could make out with me behind the dumpster, but it turns out, he was being serious. We worked on it and took it to New York City. The response was so friendly that it became a little hit, and then went on tour. I have now been touring for just over 10 years. It's crazy, right!?
You've sold Tupperware all around the world. Do you do your show in different languages?
I have had to battle some funny accents in my day in order to understand what people are saying. But most of the time, I have understood enough from their body language that I can order a vodka in over eight languages, just by hand gestures. Most of the places I have traveled to, I can decipher what they are saying, but every so often, I have to bring one of them "wherever the heck do you mean when you say that" phrase translation book. The main thing is that "Food Storage" seems to be a universal language. Lucky for me.
How many languages do you speak?
Counting that thing that I can do with my leg without even having to touch it? One.
What's your record take for a show?
I think my biggest party was a little over $5,000 in sales. It was a giant group of friends who all had one goal, get creative food storage solutions for their homes. The Party Host got awarded more free Tupperware than any other host I have seen in my life! But the most important thing isn't how many bowls people buy, it's how much fun they have at the party. That's my goal. I want to make sure they are having a blast!
Do you find certain Tupperware pieces sell better in specific cities?
Of course. In places like New York where people have smaller apartments and don't have space to entertain, the fun party bowls and servings sets don't really do well there, but the modular storage stuff is amazing. In a city like L.A. where people love to get together with friends, the opposite is true. In Texas, they really love a place to stick their meat for marinading. In the heartland, we got something for your butter. Wherever you are, I have something for you.
How many pieces of Tupperware do you have in your own kitchen?
My kitchen is packed with all kinds of great crap from over the years that I have been selling. Some of it I use every day, and some of it is vintage stuff that I have picked up in my travels or have been given by friends who know that I love me some classic Tupperware.
What's your oldest Tupperware piece?
My meemaw gave me a bowl that she got as a wedding present back in the 50's. It has her name scribbled on the bottom in sharpie so that when she would take her ambrosia salad to the church social, she would make sure to get it back. Those people who bought Tupperware when it first came out were hawks about keeping their bowls on a short leash. They didn't ever want to part company with them. It's one of my favorite pieces.
What do you look for in picking an audience volunteer?
One of the things I love best about doing my show is that I get to have people up onstage helping to demonstrate with me and play along. It's a party after all. I don't want people just sitting on their hands staring at me and listening to me yammer on about containers for days. I want people to get up and have fun with me. I look for people who are excited to be part of the party.
What's the most memorable audience interaction you had during one of your shows?
I have been blessed to have so many fun moments over the years. I had a woman laugh so hard she coughed her dentures into her hand. We all thought she was having a stroke, but it turns out, she was just laughing so much that she was overcome with the giggles. I had a woman make tee-tee on her seat from laughing, and then she was brave enough to tell me about it. Bless her heart! I had a woman at a show in Nashville tell me that after her momma, a lifelong Tupperware lady, had passed away; they put her ashes in her favorite container and have them on the mantle. The list is long and ridiculous. Trust me.
What's your favorite Tupperware piece to demonstrate?
Each of the pieces I show have special meaning to me because of the stories that I share about them. It's like your children. How can you pick a favorite? I mean, most people honestly can, but then they say they can't in order to not hurt the feelings of the ones who didn't turn out as well. For example, I couldn't possibly tell you that I liked one of my children better than the others, except for my son who is my favorite, but I don't want the other two to know it because then they will frown and pout. I'm real busy, so I don't have time to try to make them feel better. OK, it's the wine opener. That's my favorite.
If I have bowls and lids that don't completely close to burp, can you help me replace them?
The lifetime warranty is one of the things people love the most about Tupperware. If anything ever goes bad with your Tupperware, I can replace it free of charge. When you buy it, you buy it for life. There aren't many things in life that have a warranty. If they did, things would be so much easier. For example, have you ever tried to take an empty jug of wine back to the store and say that it was defective and it didn't come filled up? They would never put more wine in it. Not one time. And I have tried it everywhere. It's just a crying shame. More things need to come with a warranty.
I've been to a few Tupperware parties myself. Bought some pieces and always left with some little cute swag. Can Kirk Douglas audiences expect a little swag giveaway when they attend your Tupperware party?
At the end of the party, I'll be out in the lobby helping people get their Tupperware and giving hugs and meeting people. While I don't have the ability to give every single person a little gift just for coming, you can rest assured that everyone can leave with a hug from me. And after all, isn't that what life is all about, a hug from a really, really pretty lady?
So, what cities are next on your Tupperware tour?
I am putting together my whole tour schedule for next year as we speak. I'll be in places like Fayetteville, Arkansas and Chandler, Arizona. I'm possibly going back to Des Moines, Iowa and Denver, Colorado. All the places that you associate with a good time. I'm also chatting with theaters in Philly and New York. Chances are within the next year, I'm coming to a city near your friends or family.
Do you, Dixie Longate, have any other future non-Tupperware projects you can share with us?
I always have ideas floating around in my head that I'm working on. I have another show that I do when I'm not doing DIXIE'S TUPPERWARE PARTY called NEVER WEAR A TUBE TOP WHILE RIDING A MECHANICAL BULL (AND 16 OTHER THINGS I LEARNED WHILE I WAS DRINKING LAST THURSDAY. I keep touring around with that and I'm hoping to bring it to L.A. sometime very soon. I have the beginnings of another show that I have started scribbling down on the back of bar napkins. I've actually done a bit of stand-up story-telling within the last year after being pressured by some of my friends. I swear you ain't heard the last of me after you have seen my show.
Thank you again Dixie! I look forward to attending your Tupperware party at the Kirk Douglas and adding to my Tupperware collection.
For ticket availability and show schedule through December 30, 2018; go to DixiesTupperwareParty.com