The year was 1950, and single mother Brownie Wise was making ends meet by selling Tupperware products at home parties. Her go-getter spirit and natural flair for demonstrating creative food storage created such a buzz, Earl Silas Tupper, the inventor of the plastic bowls and containers with spill-proof lids, took notice and made her vice president of his company. Sales went through the kitchen roof.
Fifty years later, there's a new queen on the home party scene. Her name is Dixie Longate. Like her predecessor, Dixie found salvation in Tupperware. But instead of selling to make ends meet, Dixie sold Tupperware to regain custody of her three children, Dwayne, Wynona, and lil' Absorbine, Jr. She says, "I got out of prison and my parole officer said that I needed to get a job in order to get my kids back. She suggested that I start selling something out of my home, and since white slavery isn't a really big market in this country right now, I thought, Tupperware. I did my first party and had a blast. Made about $300 that afternoon and thought, 'This is easy. I want to give this a try.'" And try she did.
In just three years, Dixie Longate has become the number one personal seller of containers that "burp." Her sales pitch is unconventionalshe shares the intimate details of her life (with 18 marriages behind her, she makes Elizabeth Taylor look virginal) and passes along her wisdom on everything from child rearing to how to use Tupperware products in new, highly inventive ways. Suffice it to say, it's never a drag at one of Dixie's Tupperware parties. And armed with a team of sellers, she's determined to make Diamond Crown Manager, and if the team makes $240,000 in sales in one calendar year, she could be driving a convertible SAAB to her parties.
annabelle recently caught up with the sassy single mother after one of her Tupperware parties during the 2004 New York City Fringe Festival (her performance was nominated for a FringeNYC Excellence Award). We asked her about Tupperware, life, panties, and The O.C.
All Hail the Queen of Tupperware:
Q. You are, without doubt, THE Queen of Tupperware. Growing up in Mobile, Alabama, did you ever dream you'd be where you are today?
A. I pretty much had the dream that every young lady from Alabama has, to not get caught while committing a crime, and to marry someone with more than 10 teeth. Well, I'm 0 for 2, but I sure do love selling the Tupperware. It is not only fun to go to a party every night that I am working, it is also an amazing source of income and I get to be my own boss. That means I can drink as much as I want at the parties and no one will dock my pay.
Q. Were you a natural when it came to selling the products?
A. I find that if you have a personality and a sense of fun, it is easy to sell things. I mean who doesn't want to go to a party? I enjoy the fact that I'm at a party every time I work and that keeps me energized. Well, that and the money. I found out I was better at this than I thought.
Q. What does it take to be a good Tupperware seller?
A. If you are easy-going around people, then this is the job for you. Everybody loves Tupperware. It really sells itself. My job is just to make sure that everyone is having fun at the party. And I do that by making sure that I am having fun at the party. And I love the fact that the more I work, the more money I make. It is so easy to make money with Tupperware.
Q. Your Tupperware demonstration goes 90 minutes without a break. Where do you get your amazing stamina and even more amazing energy? And, I couldn't help notice what great legs you have. Is there some sort of Dixie Longate Tupperware exercise program you could recommend?
A. I get energized knowing that people are pulling out their checkbooks for me. Also, a mixed drink in my tumbler never hurts at all. And thank you so much for your comments about my legs. I am lucky. I have good genes. Also, I have a lot of sex. I find that it is the best form of cardio. It keeps my belly firm and my legs shapely. I go to the gym too. Mostly to watch the other people there and to get dates. That is sort of my work out. I go to the gym and find someone to bring home and then we sweat to the oldies, if you know what I mean. It makes my gym membership worth the money.
Q. Besides buying clothes at Montgomery Ward, what other style guidelines do you have for getting that perfect Tupperware seller look?
A. Well, I think you have to have a great pair of comfortable yet gorgeous shoes. The foundation of a building is important, and that is how I look at shoes. They are your foundation. I believe in looking nice but being comfortable. Panties are completely optional.
I always wear my approved Tupperware brand apron. That way I look professional and I have pockets where I can store prizes, extra pens, my cell phone, and a box of condoms. You never know whom you'll meet at a party. I was in the Girl Scouts. I learned to always be prepared.
A gentle scarf around my neck always gives that touch of country that I love. And I love fresh cut flowers in my hair. That brings me closer to nature. And nature reminds me of nudity. And nudity reminds me of sex. And sex reminds me of the gym. And the gym reminds me of a party. And a party always brings me back to Tupperware. Do you see how everybody wins!!!
Q. I've debated this with my friends, but I do believe there is a direct correlation between height of hair and Tupperware sales. Can you back me up on this?
A. Well, as we say in the south, the higher the hair, the closer to God. It is really true. I do tease my hair up sometimes. And I can store extra bowl sets in there in case of an emergency.
Before a big weekend of parties or before I do a bunch of parties in a row, I like to go to the auto body shop and get my hair buffed up to a high sheen. That way no one at the party gets bored. They always have a nice high pretty shiny beacon in the middle of the room to stare at. When you look at me and my hair, it is like looking at art, only I'm not under a piece of bullet-proof glass.
Q. With a team on track to selling $160,000 worth of Tupperware products this year, obviously you are an inspirational team manager. Have you ever considered writing a self-help book? Say, Tupperware for the Chicken Soup Soul?
A. Now that is a great idea. I should look into that. I mean I love to tell stories. I love to be insprational. And I just love chicken soup. So that might be a great group of things to blend together. I can actually include packets of chicken soup mix in the book and then a coupon for a brand new Tupperware Flat-Out 4 cup container. It would be ground-breaking!
Right now, with the help of my very small team, my sales are at $160,000 for the year. If I get to $240,000, I get a convertible SAAB. If any of your fine readers would like to join my team and make buttloads of money and qualify for fantastic weekly prizes and drive a free car through Tupperware, let me know. I'd be happy to work with them and show them the inside track on how to become a successful Tupperware lady like myself.
Q. I imagine you are close to being the top seller of all time. Are you approaching such legendary status?
A. Honestly, I would have to ask the fine people at Tupperware about that. I'm not really sure. I know that next year at Jubilee, the National Tupperware Convention, they will be recognizing the #1 Personal Seller of Tupperware for the first time ever. I am sure that it will be me. I have been #1 for quite a while now. And If I don't win, I'm going to take steps to correct that problem that will make me look like a pageant stage mother. I have a dream. I will be #1!
Q. I'm getting ready to host my first dinner party ever and I'm a little nervous. Any tips for a first-time hostess?
A. That's easy. No panties. That is something I learned in church that always serves me well. Maybe you should light a candle or two as well.
Let's see, what else... Oh, have napkins for the messy people that come to the party. Alcohol, Alcohol, Alcohol. And try to make sure that the food doesn't suck. And one of my favorite things that I read from a book on being the perfect hostess that was printed in the 1950s. Try to plan your time so that you are ready about 10 or 15 minutes before your guests are scheduled to arrive. That way, you can pour yourself a glass of wine and sit in the living room with your feet up and relax briefly. And when your guests start arriving, you can greet them at the door with a warm hostess glow. I have always loved that advice Mostly because you get to drink before your guests do.
Q. I read in one of my etiquette books that conversation is more important than food at a dinner party. I suck at conversation. What are some good conversation starters that have worked for you?
A. Some great things that always work for me are lines like:
"Did you know I'm not wearing any panties." This one is a classic and can put all the focus on you if you want it that way.
"Stop spitting at me you ho-bag." If used with the right inflection, it can make even the meanest person smile like a little girl on Christmas morning.
Using words like "moose poop" or "Glockenspiel" in a sentence always can really put people at ease when you have a room full of people who don't really know one another.
Always compliment your guests. That will charm them into talking so that you don't have to.
Q. What are your Top Five Must-Have's to pull off a successful theme party?
A. You must have:
1) No panties on.
2) At least four bottles of vodka for every four guests.
3) A silicone cooking spatula.
4) An easily accessible box of panty liners (with wings) and a 12" greased cookie sheet.
5) Four hours of video footage of either figure skating or train crashes.
6) And this is a bonus tip. Boxed corn meal muffin mix and two Twinkies.
Q. What do you do if a party guest becomes unruly or if something clearly is going wrong with the party, say, guests start leaving before the third round of cocktails? In other words, how do you save a sinking party?
A. Easy. First of all, the only reason that parties fail is the absence of a visible handgun on your person. If you are packing heat in your bra strap, no one will leave until you tell them that the party is good and over.
Dixie's Thoughts on Random Questions...
Q. What do you think of Martha Stewart? Do you think she was treated fairly?
A. When I watched her show one time and she told me that she was going to show me how to make a very simple and practical German Christmas Kissing Ball, I know it was time for her to go. I mean, what is practical about a German Christmas Kissing Ball? What IS a German Christmas Kissing Ball? If it was that important, don't you think Wal-Mart would have them by now? And look at it this way, now she can practice Lesbianism in prison and people won't make a big deal out of it. She couldn't do that on her show.
Q. Now you live in Southern California, near Orange County. The O.C. is THE favorite television show of the annabelle staff. Who do you think would kick more ass as a Tupperware seller, Seth's mom, Kirsten Cohen or Marissa's mom, the bitch Julie Cooper?
A. What is a more important question is how many times can those 17-year-old boys take off their shirts and practice underage sex? My Tivo gets a workout from that show. Rewind. Rewind. Rewind. Rewind!!!!!
Q. Where do you see the future of Tupperware heading?
A. As I talk to more and more people and I get a younger crowd of people inspired to not only use Tupperware, but also to hold Tupperware parties, I think the face of the whole company will change. I want to make Tupperware a young, fun, hip thing to be involved with. My goal is to personally reinvigorate Tupperware with a brand new sales force full of crazy fun youngsters that want to take these parties to the next level like I do.
I love that I am able to set my own schedule, go to parties for a living, make gobs of money, and be able to vacation when I want to and live in a gorgeous double-wide trailer, all because of Tupperware. As I said earlier, Tupperware sells itself. It is a great product. I really do believe in it. So with such great name brand recognition, my job becomes so much easier and more fun. I don't have to convince people that they need to get this stuff. All I need to do is pick up a bowl or a knife set, or some of the great new Chef Series Cookware, and crack a joke and the people will buy it. My job is easy. I just drink and process the orders. And then have sex. See, everybody wins!
-Interviewed by Sarah Thurmond
For more Dixie, visit her website at www.DixieLongate.com
Party Issue Features:
Greatest Parties ::
:: Your First Dinner Party ::
:: Getting In With the In Crowd::
:: The Truth About Frat Parties ::
:: Miss Dixie Longate Throws a Mean Tupperware Party ::
:: It's Not Strange To Throw Your Dog a Party ::
:: How To Set The Whole Thing To Music ::
In Every Issue:
Miss Lonelyhearts :: The Party Calendar :: Links :: The Pencil of The Month Club :: About Us
** Our Top Ten Favorite Things** :: Submissions
Letters from the Editors
There's More To Love!