Dixie Longate is an off-broadway solo-act performer and Tupperware sales lady. Her show, “Dixie’s Tupperware Party” has earned her the title of “America’s #1 Tupperware Sales person”.
Currently, the Alabama born Dixie has taken her show on the road, creating Tupperware converts across the country. Her routine, a mixture of humorous, brass, endearing and informational performance, makes anyone in Dixie’s path fall in love with her and (even more importantly) her product.
Jon Miller: There are so many products that are sold at “door to door” style parties similar to your own. Some, such as sex toys and make-up, seem like a more obvious choice for a salesperson as brassy and fabulous as yourself. What made you gravitate towards Tupperware?
Dixie Longate: Well, my parole officer was the one who got me started in Tupperware. I guess I was always pretty good at sales looking back. I mean the amount of times I would leave the trailer in the morning to go to school with empty pockets and by lunch time, end up with enough Lincoln’s to buy half of the cafeteria a pint of 2% milk, well, lets just say, it made this 4th grader pretty proud. My parole officer told me when I got released that I needed a job in order to get my kids back. Seeing how the restraining order prevented me even going into certain parts of town after 6pm, I told her that it was just a ridiculous idea. Well, she worked her magic as only a lesbian in the police force can do, and Shazaam, I started selling these fantastic bowls.
When I did my first party, I was terrible. I would pick up a bowl and call it a spoon! I was knocking everything over. I have to admit, I was just plain nervous. Not the nerves you get on a first date when you have seen his dirty pictures on the internet and you are just biding time till you get to hop in the back seat and verify that it was a real picture in his profile. Not that kind of nervous. I mean truly nervous.
I hadn’t sold anything for ages.
But when the host of the party brought me out a cocktail and didn’t charge me for it and then people started buying things and giving me money, I felt a little shiver come crawling up my spine. I couldn’t imagine actually getting paid to drink for free. Right then and there, I knew I had found the job for me.
JM: You must be the most radical thing to happen to the Tupperware brand since it’s inception. How did you successfully pitch the idea for your show to the Tupperware corporation?
DL: You have to keep in mind that although the creation of the products was all from the mind of Earl Tupper, it took a woman named Brownie Wise to actual take the products off of the shelves and create the Tupperware Party. She was a revolutionary business woman back in the day. She was the one who figured out that in order to sell brand new, space age, non-breakable bowls, with an air-tight seal to women in the kitchen, she had to actually bring them into the kitchen. Back then, that was a very radical idea. I mean, selling products door to door was nothing new, but to bring women together and get them in a buying frenzy in the middle of their own living room, well, that was truly breaking every sales tradition that was out there. Tupperware has always been a pretty progressive company I think. You really have to be progressive and ever-changing and filled with incredible vision to be able to get a company whose mainstay is plastic bowls to be able to remain success and survive for 65 years. It’s no easy feat. And who hasn’t heard of a Tupperware Party? Everyone knows about it whether you have been to one or not. That is what is so remarkable about the brand.
When I asked them if they would let me keep selling their products and bring them to a whole new group of people that probably forgot that Tupperware even existed, well, I have to give them tons of credit. They approached the idea with lots of integrity and lots of smiles. That is why I still love working for Tupperware all these years later.
JM: In your show, you can sometimes come across as a bit….confrontational. Do people in the audience ever not get the joke?
DL: Sadly, sometimes people sit there and end up all grim-faced and frowny. I don’t understand that. I mean if everyone around is laughing and having a good time, why are you working so hard to be moody? What does that get you in life? I am a woman with 3 kids from the not too good area of Mobile, Alabama. Where I grew up, you had to get good at fighting for what you believe in. I never had much money and it didn’t look like I was going to have all that good of a future. I really struggled for a good long time and I have to tell you, I earned my right to be where I am. So many people who are looking down their nose at me probably didn’t have to lift a finger to get where they are. When they are having a miserable time in life, it gets my back up. I am just here trying to spread some love and uplift some people. I want people to understand that they are in control of their own lives and there is so much more out there for most people than they can ever even dream of. Sometimes, when I come up against someone who is grim-faced, I get a bit stern I guess. It comes from raising three kids on my own. I never want to be mean, but I will tell you, I’m not a push over either. If people are being slugs at the Tupperware Party, and taking away from other people’s enjoyment, well, don’t start crying when I get up in your face and tell you to shape up. It is what we call “tough love” back at home. You might not like it, but it is how you grow.
JM: You are billed as “the #1 Tupperware seller in the US and Canada”. How competitive is the business? Do you have any Tupperware enemies as a result of your success?
DL: Currently, I have slid in sales a bit. I don’t know if it is the economy or that people don’t really get that they can buy Tupperware at the shows, but I am still working everyday to stay on top. After all, that is what a good Christian does. I go to the Jubilee Convention every year and watch as new people get on stage for recognition. It is so amazing to watch people stand onstage and be cheered for and respected like they have never been before in their lives. And they did all of this on their own. This is by virtue of their own work and ingenuity. That, I have to say, earns them respect from me every time. You know the funny thing; the people that I am standing onstage at the top with, they are never jealous or ungracious about success. Last year, when I earned the Top spot, I remember standing onstage with another gal who had worked her tail off all year. Right before they announced me as #1, she turned to me and grabbed my hand and said,”I just have to tell you this. I am so proud of you. Congratulations.” Now THAT is a classy lady. I have a picture of her on my desk where I put in my Tupperware orders. The people who work the hardest are never the ones who give you grief. It is the people who aren’t successful who are always jealous and saying that others are bad because of this, that and the other thing. “I can’t get anyone to host a party cause Dixie takes them all from me. I can’t sell lots cause I have four kids and I work full-time. It’s not fair that I’m not onstage getting recognized because I worked just as hard.” Shut up you damn whore. Stop making excuses for the lack of your success. Ain’t nobody going to hand it to you. You gotta earn it. Hell, I did. Do you think someone just came up and gave me almost a quarter of a million dollars in sales last year when I was #1? Hell, no. I had to earn every single one of those sales. I did party after party, and sold bowl after bowl. I didn’t make excuses, and I was rewarded for it. That is my advice to people I guess. Stop looking at others as the problem. Take that time that you are bellyaching about something and get off your duff and do something about it. Because you know what is more fun that bitching about what you don’t have? It’s earning the things that you do have. Amen! I’m proud of what I have achieved and you know what, I am proud of every single guy and gal that I stand on stage with at the Jubilee every year, cause I know they have worked every bit as hard as I have. I respect those people. That is who I look to the for advice. You want to do better in life? Get a better group of people to hang out with.
The cream always rises.
If you live someplace kind of boring (sorry Minneapolis!), then soon you just might get the chance to see Dixie live!
|Hartford, CT||The Bushnell||11/13/09 – 11/15/09|
|Green Bay, WI||Weidner Center||11/17/09 – 11/22/09|
|New London, CT||Oasis Room||11/30/09 – 12/06/09|
|MESA, AZ||Mesa Arts Center||12/08/09 – 12/13/09|
|DES MOINES, IA||Temple Theater||01/13/10 – 01/24/10|
|Mississauga, ON||RBC Theatre||01/27/10 – 01/31/10|
|STUART, FL||The Lyric Theatre||02/02/10 – 02/03/10|
|Minneapolis, MN||Hennepin Stages||02/09/10 – 02/21/10|
|Yakima, WA||The Capitol Theatre||03/09/10 – 03/14/10|
|Greenboro, NC||Odeon Theatre||03/18/10 – 03/21/10|
|Newberry, SC||Newberry Opera House||03/22/10 – 03/24/10|
|CLEARWATER, FL||Ruth Eckerd Hall||03/30/10 – 04/03/10|
|FT. LAUDERDALE, FL||Broward Center||04/07/10 – 04/18/10|
|HUNTSVILLE, AL||Merrimack Hall||04/20/10 – 04/25/10|
26 Interviews by Jon Miller
26 interesting people.