Fort Worth — America’s favorite fast-talking Tupperware lady Dixie Longate is starting the national tour of her new show, called Dixie's Never Wear a Tube Top While Riding a Mechanical Bull (And 16 Other Things I Learned While I Was Drinking Last Thursday), in Fort Worth, where her show Dixie's Tupperware Party has been a hit for years. She talks to TheaterJones about wisdom and life lessons she discovered after a night of drinking with a friend. Her Fort Worth engagement runs Nov. 11-22 at McDavid Studio, next to Bass Performance Hall.
TheaterJones: Tell us about your show.
Dixie Longate: This is the world premiere of it. I workshopped it in Denver a year-and-a-half ago, and it went so well that I thought, “Well let’s take it on the road and see what we can do.” And so Fort Worth said, “C’mon here, everyone loves you down here and we’re so neighborly,” and I said, “Yes you are.” It’s fun. It is basically…it’s all the life lessons that I could scrounge up on a napkin after being drunk one night in a bar. It’s sort of like looking at life through a different set of eyes. You know when you drink you get smarter? It’s like that. It’s like everything I’ve learned, it’s like, “Oh, I need to give this and that to people,” and then everybody knows about that. It’s taking everybody’s life and juicing it up a little bit with some good old-fashioned wisdom.
What inspired you to write the show?
It was my best friend Georgia Jean, she has a barn nearby me in Mobile (Alabama), which is where I’m from. When I’m home I go there a lot and just hang out with her, and [last time] we were all sitting around, she was getting married and so we were sort of planning the parties for her, her big wedding shower and everything. As we were planning the parties, we just started throwing ideas back and forth at each other about what the parties were going to be like and as we kept drinking, those party ideas kind of expanded and got bigger. We started changing the world with the things we were writing down, it was like being Oprah [Winfrey] and Gayle [King]. We just got that going and then it became this big old thing and I said, “I need to put this into a program and start talking to people about it and see what happens.”
I noticed that this show incorporates setting more than the Tupperware show, but you still have pieces of your Tupperware on stage.
There’s always a little bit of Tupperware around me. Since I’ve been a Tupperware lady for 14 years now, I’m never going to be far away from it. This show isn’t about Tupperware. I don’t want to do a thing about, “Let’s talk about Tupperware” because I’ve done that in the last program. This way, I take the honky tonk and I put it right on stage. With the Tupperware party it was just me and the Tupperware, talking about all that. This is me dead smack in my honky tonk and just giving you every life lesson I can. Everything you ever needed to learn in life, you can learn by riding a mechanical bull. I made sure that the bull was on stage and I’m talking about all the stuff that you’re going to experience when you are in a honky tonk.
Some of your other shows, like your Tupperware show, have been performed for a few years by now. What do you look forward to in performing something this new show?
I’m really excited to see what people are going to think about it. I’ve been doing my Tupperware party on stage for…oh my Lord, it’s been seven years now all over the country, and so for me, it’s going to be interesting to see how the audience reacts with it and deals with it when they’re playing around with this or that on a different level. It’s a lot of me talking to people and going in and getting people into the honky tonk and working with them on the bull and everything. I definitely get to do a lot of participation with the audience, and everything, but this one, I’m trading my Tupperware bowls for a mechanical bull. It’s gonna be fun to get people in a honky tonk for a night.
Speaking of audience engagement, you do that a lot in your shows. How do you think that adds to this show in particular?
I’ve been to plenty of programs that I sit and watch and get very entertained, but I always like getting my hands dirty. I always like to meet people and get people up on stage with me. It’s one of these things that [makes me] excited because you never know what’s going to happen, every show is going to be a little bit different based on who’s going to get up. I delve into some people’s adventures and things that they’ve done since I talk so much about all the adventures that I do, so it’s fun to be able to share different people and different things that they’ve gone and it’s like, “Oh my Lord, I never would have thought you had this kind of adventure. I never thought that this was the kind of thing that this quiet old lady would do.” You never know until you get people up and ask. That’s the fun of it. It gives me the opportunity to meet people, and also, for the audience to meet each other. I could always go to the ballet and sit and watch and say, “Oh, look at those people twirling around like that,” but then sometimes I just want to get my hands dirty and have myself some fun with everybody. That’s what makes it exciting.
The story behind Tupperware parties and why you created the show and celebrated Brownie Wise—the “inventor” of the Tupperware party—is fascinating. What is the culture behind this show?
I always try to celebrate people. Being on stage, I always try to celebrate people and try my best to make people smile. With this, I wanted to do sort of the same thing. I want to make sure that everyone leaves, not just having a good time, but feeling a two-step a little bit and feeling like they can go out and take on the world. That’s why I put it in the bar, a place where people can get a little extra liquid courage when they need it, and also, putting it on the mechanical bull. That’s a real big thing. I think there’s nothing more stampy. It’s like, if you go, if you can ride a bull for eight seconds, it makes you just so proud and so excited, and if you ever have the chance to be on a mechanical bull, it is fun. It’s hard, but it’s fun. When you squeeze your legs together and you go up on that, it’s a good time. I think I want to get people to do that, I want to get people in a position where they’re going to try that. This is always my thing when I’m working on stuff, just making sure I can take people and put them on a level that I’m celebrating them, and making them smile.
What are you most looking forward to with the tour in general, and specifically the stop for a week and a half in Fort Worth?
Again, Fort Worth is one of my very favorite places and the audience has always been so neighborly. People have come again and again. There have been people who if I’m coming to do a show, I have people who will come 2, 3, 4 times just while I’m in town doing a run of the show. I feel like I have all these friends here that I know, they’ll say, “We’re coming, we’re excited.” I’m just looking forward to seeing so many friendly faces, and seeing them getting excited in a whole different way.