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The Tupperware Tuck

Drag Queens Take Over America’s Favorite Kitchen Party

by Steve Desroches

Top Photo: Bradford Rogne

Brownie Wise started a revolution. A divorced single mother in 1950, there were few opportunities to support herself and her son. Having a sales background prior to her marriage, Wise saw potential in a product invented by Earl Tupper that hit the market in 1946: Tupperware. She not only thought the product was useful and durable, but it was also a chance for women to earn their own money at a time when they were not welcomed into the workforce as America sought to return to the days before Rosie the Riveter. Wise developed a direct sales system that became popularly known as the Tupperware Party. Impressed with her business acumen, Tupper made her vice president, and she managed the company’s marketing strategies helping to turn Tupperware into a global icon.

As forward thinking as Wise was, the “ladies” at the top of the Tupperware game now would surprise her. When it comes to drag queens, much of the nation’s attention has turned to story hours and reality shows. But for the past decade another drag movement has been marching along steadily with little fanfare or mainstream notice. Most of the top sellers of Tupperware in the United States and Canada are drag queens. For real. Keep in mind that anti-gay crusader Anita Bryant was a longtime spokeswoman for Tupperware. And now drag queens are selling more Tupperware then she ever did. Life is just full of marvelous twists and turns.

These entrepreneurial drag queens are making the Orlando-based Tupperware Brand Corporation millions (and some serious cash for themselves as they can make up to 35% commission). Dixie Longate is one of those queens. Since she began her Tupperware parties in 2004, she has sold almost $2.5 million dollars worth of “fine-quality plastic crap” at her shows, which are as hilarious as they are very real. And she’s bringing her all-American sales show with a twist to Provincetown this Fourth of July weekend as she presents A Tupperware Party with Dixie Longate at the Pilgrim House.

“My parole officer said I needed to get a job to get my kids back,” says Longate about how she got into selling Tupperware. “I didn’t want them back, but who knew that they make you take them back when you get out of jail?”

Several times over the past 10 years Longate has been the top seller in the country, receiving invitations to the company’s annual national “jubilee” convention to be honored. What started out as a real progressive move for women turned into a scoffed at conservative stereotype. Now, women are meeting drag queens, like Longate, often for the first time, and it’s not a case of two worlds colliding, but rather becoming friends, says Longate, in sincerity. Five years ago, four out of the top five sellers in North America were drag queens. That’s how ubiquitous of a presence they are in the Tupperware world.

Photo: Bradford Rogne

The whole phenomenon seems to have begun in Los Angeles in the 1990s when drag queen Pam Teflon developed a Tupperware party to double as a drag show, becoming the top seller in America’s second largest city in the process. Longate soon followed and was joined by fellow Tupperware drag queens Dee W. Ieye, Aunt Barbara, Kay Sedia, and Brini Maxwell. And these are only the ones that are top sellers. Longate does not mind the competition at all. The more the merrier, she says, adding that those useful bowls and containers aren’t going to sell themselves. But of all the drag queens throwing Tupperware parties, Longate’s been at it the longest and she packs houses around the country.

“First of all, it’s a party,” says Longate. “It’s going to be a good time from beginning to end. You don’t need to buy nothing, though everybody got food storage needs. We’re going to play some games, do some giveaways. I invite people up to give Tuppermonials, ya know, how Tupperware changed their lives. You’ll leave my Tupperware party with a big old smile. I’m just going to bring about some happiness.”

It’s hard to know what Earl Tupper and Brownie Wise would think of all this. The two had a falling out in the late 1950s once Wise became a celebrity and her contributions were all but scrubbed from the company. She died in relative obscurity in 1992. It’s not until recently that her pioneer business status has come back into the culture, and drag queens had a small role in that, as they note Wise was quite flamboyant herself, known to drive around in a pink Cadillac and even dying her pet canary Mr. Crosby the same color to match. So with the evidence available it seems Wise would be right at home at one of Longate’s Tupperware parties.

The Tupperware Brand Corporation itself embraces these drag ambassadors. Even in this digital retail world, the traditional party format that Wise invented still accounts for the vast majority of sales, says Cameron Klaus, director for global communications and public relations. It’s the experience people love, and Klaus adds “People want to see the product, demonstrate how it works and enjoy that together with friends and family – and in cases like Dixie’s business, they enjoy a fun, entertaining and engaging show!” As a company Tupperware has pro-LGBT employee policies and Longate adds that she has had nothing but a positive experience with the corporation.

“They are so neighborly,” says Longate. “They invite you up on stage at the jubilee and give you a tiara – plastic – and a sash and all. They let me talk in the microphone. They are so wonderful. They’re real forward thinking people. They love having us gals there.”

A Tupperware Party with Dixie Longate runs at the Pilgrim House, 336 Commercial St., Provincetown, Thursday, July 4 and Friday, July 5 at 7:30 p.m. and Monday, July 8 and Tuesday, July 9 at 9 p.m. Tickets ($30/$40) are available at the box office and online at For more information call 508.487.6424.

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Graphic Artist

Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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