Keeping It Fresh

Dixie Longate hits the road with her Tupperware Party, talks about her life in prison, what she keeps in the modular mates under her bed and why the girls in the OC know how to party.

BY Baz Hawkins

August 19 2009 12:00 AM ET

DIXIE LONGATE XLRG (COURTESY) | ADVOCATE.COM

So what’s a Dixie Longate Tupperware party like?It’s a hoot! We’re having so much fun you don’t even have to have a blood alcohol level above .02 to want to buy crap at the end of the party. Most people think of Tupperware parties as boring and stale, but my parties, well... imagine a bunch of sorority sisters leaving the kids at home in order to practice rimming bowls and opening wine bottles with my #1254 corkscrew, and trying my Squeeze-it Decorator, item #828, that has more uses in the bedroom than in the kitchen. True story. But like I say, this ain’t your momma’s Tupperware party.

But how did you go from doing parties in people’s homes to doing it onstage?I have to give a ton of credit to my good friend Tom Caruso. He’s a director in New York, and after coming to a couple of my parties he thought millions of people would want to hear me talk about creative food storage solutions onstage. He helped me turn my little parties into a show and we took it to New York as part of the International Fringe Festival in 2004. It got a lot of attention there, and that led to an off-Broadway run at the Ars Nova Theatre in Midtown Manhattan in 2007, which launched it into a national tour.

What’s the difference between your home parties and your show?Well, the show is sort of like having me host a Tupperware party in your home, but in a much bigger living room, with a bunch more folks ‘round you that you don’t know -- at least not at the beginning. But everyone gets a name tag and a catalog, and there are games and prizes and raffles. I talk about myself and where I come from, and my kids and ex-husbands, and prison, and hopefully you’ll learn a bit about yourself and a few other people as well.

I can’t believe I’ve been on the road with the show for a year already, and we’re still going strong. That just shows you that when times are tough, people just really want to go out, forget their troubles, and laugh their asses off.

So what were you doing before you started selling Tupperware?Well, that depends on who on the parole board you talk to. I’ve had a couple run-ins with the law, nothing major. I’ve never been indicted for any of the big things, just a lot of little things that mess you up. Lord, if Winona Ryder can get off for stealing $5,000 worth of scarves from Saks, I don’t know why I got sent to the big house for jackin’ a Slurpee machine from the 7-Eleven for my kids. But anyway, when I got out of prison the last time, my parole officer suggested that I get some sort of a job so I could legally provide for my family. After a couple of false starts I found Tupperware, and I’ve been riding those plastic pieces to the top ever since.

That’s an inspiring story for anyone experiencing hard times and looking to make a change.My show’s message is all about personal empowerment and personal responsibility. As someone with very little education, I was always being told I’d never amount to anything, so it’s pretty amazing to be where I am today. I’ve earned more money, traveled more places, and had so much more fun working for Tupperware than I ever could working some nine-to-five job. Nothing against Dolly Parton, bless her heart. Sure I’ve had my ups and downs, but that’s life, hooker. I’m living proof that if you set your mind to something, you can achieve it. And living in such a great country, even with the state of things right now, there are still plenty of opportunities to make your life better, as long as you get off your butt and put in the effort. Otherwise, shut up and get out of my way. I ain’t got time to hear you whine; I got plastic bowls to sell.

Tags: Theater

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