A red-haired vixen is one of America's best sellers of Tupperware — those plastic containers prized by homemakers — and she's only a woman part of the time.
Dixie Longate is a drag queen who's sold hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Tupperware through both parties and stage shows. Dixie came in number 1 at a recent Tupperware "jubilee" (or sales conference, in normal parlance), with $219,000 in sales.
Dixie, who describes her character as an Alabama mother with an arrest record, says Tupperware selling is not a backward step for women.
"Tupperware came into vogue when all these women were relegated to the kitchen," Dixie tells The Guardian. "And it was an amazing way for them to run their own businesses. I wanted to make this a little love letter to (Tupperware pioneer) Brownie Wise, and to women everywhere.
Drag artist Dixie Longate shows off her Tupperware bowls.
There is more than one queen who adores Tupperware and is hoping for a great jubilee.
Drag artist Dixie Longate has been selling Tupperware for more than 10 years – most recently through a stage show that doubles as a party – apparently becoming one of the biggest sellers in the US.
She says that, on two occasions now, she has shifted more "fine-quality plastic crap" than anyone else in a year, and been invited to the Tupperware sales conference to collect her tiara. Known as jubilees, these conferences a re "fantastic, like a cult without the animal sacrifice ... When I was No 1 last time I had sold $219,000 [£135,400] of Tupperware in a year. Ain't that crazy?"
It is. But it reflects that, while Tupperware's star may have dimmed in the UK (there was talk of a relaunch last year), it is still thriving worldwide. A party takes place globally every 1.7 seconds, with sales of $2.3bn in 2010.
Would Brownie Wise, who pioneered Tupperware parties in the late 1940s, have been surprised by a drag queen topping the sales charts? Probably not. The company's history throbs with high camp. Wise herself drove a pink cadillac, with a canary dyed to match, and started the jubilees as four days of fun and fancy dress for sellers. And although Dixie may have a particularly suggestive way with a Tupperware-fresh cucumber, she is probably not the first. Sellers sometimes used to promote their parties with "carrot calling", presenting carrots to a neighbour, asking them to keep one in Tupperware, the other wherever they normally would. Firm results led to bumper bookings.
The history of Tupperware parties is sometimes considered bad for women; reinforcing domestic stereotypes and commercialising social ties
The history of Tupperware parties is sometimes considered bad for women; reinforcing domestic stereotypes and commercialising social ties. But Dixie – a mother of three from Alabama, who started doing the parties after spells in prison, and denies any knowledge of an alter-ego named Kris – is one of many to view them as an empowering postwar business model. (Wise was, after all, the first woman ever to appear on Business Week's cover in 1954.)
"Tupperware came into vogue when all these women were relegated to the kitchen," says Dixie, "and it was an amazing way for them to run their own businesses. I wanted to make this a little love letter to Brownie Wise, and to women everywhere".
That, and plenty of fellatio jokes too.