Once upon a time in a trailer park in Mobile, Alabama, Dixie Longate’s mama taught her that “a real bull will f--- you up,” but a mechanical bull will teach you skills that last a lifetime. And now Dixie’s keeping her best friend Georgia Jean’s honky-tonk not far from that childhood trailer park open through a hurricane. Because the world needs way more happy — less crappy — hours, and we really do need her witticisms, and frankly, damn good advice and life lessons shared in her raucously fun (“funner than a funnel cake,” even) “Dixie’s Never Wear A Tube Top While Riding A Mechanical Bull and 16 Other Things I Learned While I Was Drinking Last Thursday,” now at Mason Street Warehouse in Saugatuck.
Dixie Longate is the brainchild of Kris Andersson, who both created and plays the fabulously sassy, bawdy, twangy fast-talking, gum-smacking, hard-drinking, glamorous, shameless truth-telling, Tupperware-slinging, nymphomaniacal motivational speaker whose high-energy shows are like exceptionally-timed stand up. There’s nary a lull, plenty of fantastic improvisation, and amazing rhythm and pacing that holds the audience wrapt amid the ridiculously suggestive, naughty and more than a little inappropriate quips, comments and Southernisms with a risqué twist that ultimately add up to an important, feel-good message.
“Dixie’s Tupperware Party” was Dixie’s first iteration, a 2001 New York Fringe Festival show turned Off-Broadway and Drama Desk Award nominated hit that become a successful touring show, hitting Saugatuck in 2010 and Kalamazoo last fall. “Dixie’s Never Wear A Tube Top” is the current show, developed in 2014 in concert with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and it may be even more brilliant and more fun than “Dixie’s Tupperware Party” — which is saying a lot.
Dixie, with her giant curly red hair, dress covered in shirtless beefcake cowboys and cars, metallic platform stilettos, as well as bracelets that match her neck scarf and headband, still uses “hooker” as a universal term of endearment and trash, and real talks a mile a minute, offering an astounding 90 minutes of uninterrupted storytelling that makes the audience laugh so hard and so continuously they’re gasping for breath.
She also persistently drinks bourbon from her purple Tupperware sippy cup, which when full (“the taller the glass, the closer to Jesus!”), offers an important counterweight while riding the mechanical bull upstage center in this honky tonk, her favorite place in the world. Here, it’s a homey dive bar created by set designer Lisa Orzolek decorated with Christmas lights; aluminum signs that include Rosie the Riveter, Hank Williams, Zima, and PBR; a deer head with a crown; bar stools covered with cowhide and fringe; a jukebox; and, of course, the titular mechanical bull.
Though she still parties for a living, as she refers to her highly successful main hustle selling “the fantastic plastic crap,” in this show Tupperware is primarily used as props for improvisational audience participation. On opening night, Dixie brought up two couples for a competition that included her “sobriety test,” emptying a Tupperware Shape-O Toy and sticking the plastic yellow shapes back into it through the right holes, with a game of pin the boobs (a.k.a. green Tupperware bowls) on the life-size cut-out of Julie Andrews, “a princess who can show off her boobs . . . the best of both worlds.” Poor Julie ended up looking like . . . well, go see what happens at the next show to find out how Dixie describes the surprising icon’s tits akimbo.
Breasts, of course, are a running joke that always land. “You got girls like that, stick ’em out and show ’em to Jesus!” she cried to one woman she brought on stage to spin the makeshift “wheel of fortune.” When the wheel stopped on “60-second honky tonk,” the whole crowd got up to dance and clap while the jukebox played one minute of a festive country ditty. “You want to change someone’s life? 60-second honky tonk will cause a shift every time,” Dixie declared after do-si-do-ing with the entire front row of the theater.
Other useful advice and truisms tangentially related to the mechanical bull as metaphor for all you need to know in life include: “The squeaky wheel gets the lubrication, so speak up!” “Life is short — do something crazy.” “Bring a doily if you’re not going to wear panties.” “If people stare at you, Hooker, that’s the point.” And the all-important “sometimes in life, your tits are going to pop out.” When that happens, you have two choices: you can run or you can flop around for all the world to see.
It’s obvious which choice Dixie recommends. And by the end of this utterly joyful delight of a show, we’re all just a little more ready and well-equipped to return to the bumpy mechanical bull ride of life, whatever it brings, laughing all the way.
Dixie’s Never Wear a Tube Top While Riding a Mechanical Bull
Saugatuck Center for the Arts
400 Culver St., Saugatuck
July 25-Aug. 7