An ongoing Tupperware party recently arrived in Fort Worth, Texas is drawing quite a crowd – hundreds of people a night. Okay, so this isn’t your average Tupperware party…its part improv, part satire, and part drag show. KERA’s Lauren Silverman went to the show that’s kept plastic “burping lids” in the spotlight for eight years.
Dixie’s Tupperware Party isn’t classy – instead of a red suede curtain on stage at McDavid Studio, there’s a tower of plastic products. Forget the playbill on your seat, instead there’s a Tupperware catalog and a pen.
“My name is Dixie I’m your Tupperware lady, I’m so excited to be here today I could ride a mechanical bull with no panties.”
Dixie Longate is prancing around in five-inch, gold polka dot heels and a blue flowered ’50s apron. Her red curls pulled back by a headband, her raunchy humor bursting out. She’s here to entertain, but also to sell.
And she starts off the 80 minute show with her favorite item. Tupperware product number 1511…
“My rectangular cake taker,” she says.
Yes, you can use the cake taker to carry cupcakes to church, Dixie says, but there’s also her preferred, less virtuous use…
“If you take off this cover, 34 jello shots fits right on the other side. Becomes your little jello shot caddy! Now think how great going to church is!”
Campy humor, real sales
The stereotypical southern belle in drag shtick works – especially in the state where the show Greater Tuna was born. Dixie has sold more than $1 million dollars of Tupperware products. The whole thing started when Kris Andersson, who’s a man, began dressing as Dixie and hosting Tupperware parties in people’s living rooms. By 2004 he was one of the country’s top sellers and hit the road.
In a sit-down interview, Andersson stays in character as Dixie, with silver hoop earrings and turquoise eyeshadow. This flamboyant personality is partly what keeps people coming back.
“The reason I think it lasts so long is I think people just want to have a good time, they want to laugh,” Dixie says. “Ima burp in a minute, I can feel it coming up. (She burps.) I’m so sorry! I had Mexican for lunch.”
Her humor can be a bit campy and the trailer park sex jokes might make you cringe… but attendee Mary Churchman thought it was ‘darling.’
“I loved it,” says Churchman. “I had more fun, and actually I do remember Tupperware parties!”
She even stood up during the performance to give a “Tuppermonial.” Yes, that’s when people talk about how a piece of Tupperware changed their lives. Churchman swooned over a potato peeler.
“It is without a doubt the best potato peeler you can find,” she says.
“We’re going to buy a lot of bowls”
At a typical Tupperware party people are invited, attendees here paid $40 dollars to watch Dixie sell, take part in a raffle and learn the true story of Tupperware hero Brownie Wise.
Wise didn’t create Tupperware, that was Earl Tupper in 1946. But she put the product on the map by taking the pastry sheets and snack sets out of retail stores and into women’s homes. Dixie has taken the product out of women’s homes and brought it to the theater. And she’s done it more than 1,000 times. After the show, people stock up on electric blue tumblers, neon green pitchers and gravy shakers.
“We were looking forward to this opportunity to replenish all of our Tupperware. We’re going to buy a lot of bowls,” says Kinn Kinney. He and his wife Jane live in Haslet; they’re in their 40s. But they’re no Tupperware amateurs
“I gave her a budget of $1,000,” Kinn says.
Wait, you’re going to spend $1,000 here?
“I’m sure she is.”
Dixie earns a commission off anything she sells, just like the rest of Tupperware’s salesforce of 2.9 million people.
The secret to staying relevant all these years? Hooking the audience. Here’s plastic ware veteran Mary Churchman:
“Anytime you can involve the audience, you’ve got it made.”