What’s kept Dixie Longate selling Tupperware for 18 years? The stories she hears about the products.
Like the woman whose elderly mother had buried a pet cat years before in a Tupperware bowl. When it came time for the mother to move, she dug several holes in the lawn, searching for the bowl. She found it, Longate says, but the daughter declined to peek inside.
Or the woman who put an albino gecko named Casper in a Tupperware Celery Keeper, to help him shed his skin. When Casper died a couple of months later, the woman didn’t bury him in the container; she still wanted to use it for celery.
Longate, the fast-talking, redheaded parolee from Alabama, brings “Dixie’s Tupperware Party” back to the Playhouse @ Westport Plaza, Tuesday through Nov. 24. (That’s enough time to bring friends and buy holiday gifts, Longate points out.)
The show ran at the Playhouse for three weeks in 2016 and was so successful that she thought she’d try again.
“I will see people come three, four, five times,” she says. “They want to share it with their friends.”
In an interview, Longate gave her alter ego, Kris Andersson, credit as the show’s creator and writer. “He is such a sweet angel,” she gushed. “He came out and helped me put this together, so it wasn’t just me rambling around. He situated it all in a pretty package. He’s a good writer — and so handsome.”
Longate’s party started in 2001 when Andersson, an actor in Los Angeles, attended a Tupperware party and accepted a dare from a friend to host one himself — in drag. People loved it, and Andersson adapted the party for a stage show, which premiered at the 2004 New York International Fringe Festival.
“Dixie’s Tupperware Party” opened off-Broadway in 2007, earning Andersson a Drama Desk Award nomination (outstanding solo performance), and in 2008 started touring.
The way Longate tells it, she started selling Tupperware as a condition of her parole.
“My parole officer said, ‘You need a job in order to get your kids back,’” she says. “That’s one thing about prison: You get out, and you think freedom, but they give your kids to you.”
And as for why she’s on parole? ”Anything I’ve been taken to prison for has always been little things. Nothing big.”
When guests arrive at her party, they’ll find a Tupperware catalog at their seats and piles of Tupperware products onstage and outside the theater. (And if you say “Dixie Longate” out loud — maybe not too loudly, though — you’ll realize this Tupperware party might be a little more bawdy than most.)
Onstage, Longate tells the audience a little about the origins of Tupperware, now a cultural icon as fixed in your memory as that red-orange pitcher your mom or grandma used for serving Kool-Aid.
Tupperware products, created by Earl Silas Tupper, were introduced in the late 1940s. The containers were made from plastic, which wasn’t commonly available, and their airtight “burping” seals were inspired by paint-can lids.
Brownie Wise saw a way for women to connect with one another while also making money. She came up with the Tupperware party.
Longate herself has peddled more than $1 million in Tupperware products over the years, ranking as the company’s top sales representative.
People aren’t required to buy Tupperware at her parties, but they’ll still walk away with something valuable, Longate promises.
“It’s fun and lively, and you’ll get some giggles,” she says. “It will make you feel better about yourself. You’ll walk away feeling a bit of empowerment, ready to see what you can do in the world.”
What “Dixie’s Tupperware Party” • When Tuesday through Nov. 24; performance times vary (no show Oct. 31) • Where Playhouse @ Westport Plaza, 635 West Port Plaza • How much $50-$60 • More info 314-534-1111; metrotix.com