In 2000, Kris Andersson was just another actor living in L.A. eking out a living. “You work a little, you don’t work a little, you work a little, you don’t work a little,” he says. And then something happened that would forever transform his life. He went with a friend to a Tupperware party.
The woman selling the wares was very persuasive, and Andersson signed up to host Tupperware parties to make extra money. “A friend of mine dared me to do them in drag,” he says, noting that he’d not done drag before. “So I started doing Tupperware parties in people’s living rooms [as Dixie]. And it grew and grew and grew.” The gimmick was so successful, Andersson became the company’s top seller nationwide.
In 2004, a theater director suggested Andersson turn Dixie’s sales pitch into a full-fledged one-person show. And A Tupperware Party with Dixie Longate was born — all with Tupperware’s blessing.
“When I took it out of the living room and to the stage, I wanted it to be more than just a comedy show. I wanted it to have a true theatrical arc and to have meaning behind it. The whole show is really a love letter to women. It’s a show about women’s empowerment and finding what you’re truly capable of and not shying away from doing something amazing for yourself. It’s an allegory of women’s empowerment told through the Tupperware party.”
The show played off-Broadway for several years, earning Andersson a Drama Desk nod. In 2008, he took it on tour. “We are now one of the longest-running off-Broadway tours in history,” he says. “Which is kind of crazy.”
Andersson, who rarely does interviews out of character, is careful to note that he’s not bringing the full production next Thursday and Friday, Sept. 19 and 20, when he performs for a special Tupperware party benefitting D.C.’s Different Drummers. “The show is a bigger machine than just me coming in and doing it,” he says. To keep costs down, so more money can go to the organization, Dixie will be “doing storytelling and a Tupperware party.” Moreover, any of Andersson’s commissions made from the sale of Tupperware on both nights are being donated to DCDD.
The 49-year-old Pittsburgh native notes that while he performs in drag, “Dixie is a real person in our world. She’s a real woman with three kids from Alabama. She’s been married three times. All three husbands are out of the picture now. Some of them might not be around anymore, but she’s never been indicted in any of their murders, so that’s very important to note.”
Andersson would love to see the LGBTQ embrace the Tupperware brand. “Basically they’re letting a drag queen be the face of a global publicly-traded company,” he says. “I literally want every gay guy across the country to find some little old lady who’s selling Tupperware in their community and book a party with her. I would love that.”
A Tupperware Party with Dixie Longate is Thursday, Sept. 19 and Friday, Sept. 20, at 7 p.m. at Arena Stage, 1101 6th St. SW. Tickets are $45-$80. Visit www.dcdd.org/dixie.