Whistlin’ Dixie

RESEAL THE DEAL | Drag Tupperware guru Dixie Longate keeps Fort Worth fresh with her show … which also functions as a real Tupperware party.

Dixie Longate peddles plastic as America’s funniest Tupperware Lady

STEVEN LINDSEY | Contributing Writer
stevencraiglindsey@me.com

Someone at Amway is very jealous, because fast-talkin’, Southern drawlin’ Dixie Longate (né Kris Andersson) has turned catalog sales into a small empire. It’s mostly thanks to some hilarious shtick, the mouth of a sailor and a surprisingly thorough product knowledge in her plastic extravaganza, Dixie’s Tupperware Party.

In her one-woman interactive comedy show, starting Wednesday in Fort Worth’s McDavid Studio, Dixie reveals her sordid past, what with three dead ex-husbands and three children home alone in a trailer in Mobile, Ala. Stints in and out of prison keep her grounded and streetwise. But it’s her genuine passion for those burpable bowls that has made the Tupperware HQ take notice since she began selling nearly a decade ago. After her first year, she landed in the top 20 of national sales and hasn’t ever dropped out of it. Twice, she was the No. 1 Tupppersalesperson in the nation.

“I work real hard,” she says. “When I was No. 1, I was doing buttloads of home parties. I don’t sell as much at my shows because people are coming to be entertained — buyin’ Tupperware is not always on their minds. But I’m not going to take that away. What sort of lady would I be if I showed all this fine-quality plastic crap and then forbid you the opportunity to purchase it? That would just make me sad.”

Even though her show is wildly entertaining, it is an elaborate sales pitch. Tupperware is indeed available for purchase and what she started in small home shows translates just fine to bigger venues because she’s confident in what she does. Becoming Tupperware’s top sales diva has been motivating, but Longate acknowledges that there are other things in life.

“I have tasted sweet victory; now I want to taste other kinds of things,” she laughs. “You have to keep puttin’ stuff in your mouth to keep tastin’ ’em. Victory tastes good. But you know what? So does a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader!”

Longate is stoked to be returning to Texas, if only to experience our hospitality: “Everybody’s so neighborly. People want to have sex with me and I have to say, ‘Not everybody!’ Because I’m busy,” she says. “I didn’t get my chance to ride a mechanical bull, and that makes me happy, so I need to find one when I’m in Fort Worth. There’s nothin’ more fun than gettin’ on mechanical bull and ridin’ more than eight seconds, diggin’ your heels in and just havin’ a cocktail in a Tupperware tumbler in one hand and ridin’ it like a Christian.”

Longate is serious about her Tupperware sippy cup, always in-hand during her parties.

“Oh hell yes, I don’t want to spill my drink. Riding is so much exercise, you need to make sure you’re hydrated.”

Longate takes a dragtastic approach to sales that shocks suburbia. “There are a couple fun gals that are now selling Tupperware, making sure your food storage needs are being met. But you know how some Tupperware ladies just suck ass?” she asks. “They just sit there and they’re boring as hell. You don’t want someone sittin’ there talkin’ to your face about some bowl. You want to get up and have fun and do something crazy. That’s why it’s called a party, after all.”

And it’s one hell of a party. She’s taken it on the road all over the U.S., and even out to sea on several Atlantis gay cruises. It’s there she first came to love and accept the homosexuals — even if she can’t say the word.

“Oh you know what? At first I was a little scurred of the homosectionals because in the Bible they say things like don’t touch tongues with another man because that’s filthy and all that. But I was like, well wait, I touch tongues with other men and they’re so nice,” Longate says. “And then I met some of them homosectionals, and at first I clutched my Bible and said, you’re not supposed to be like that. But let me tell you somethin’. Homoesectionals always smell good and they travel in packs so you don’t want to mess with one because another one’s gonna come up and throw glitter at your head and that’s gonna get in your eye and sting.”

There are also other benefits to hanging out with the homosexual set.

“They are just such nice people, please and thank you and oh-ma’am-you-look-so-pretty-today. They’re never trying to rub up on your leg when they buy you a drink. They just buy you a drink and that’s that. And for that the Bible says I’m supposed to burn them? I don’t believe in that part of the Bible.”

As for her three dead ex-husbands, Longate swears there won’t be a fourth.

“It’s like they say: You can take the milk out of the cow, but you can’t have sex twice in the same room without losing the camcorder. Or something like that,” she says. “I’m gonna have some fun and meet some people behind the dumpster and lift my leg up just enough to put a smile on my face, but I’m not gonna get in a serious relationship again.”

After all, she’s got her job. Tupperware has been very good to her. Her bestsellers continue to be her Jell-O Shot Caddy (for takin’ to church, of course), her safe-edge can opener and a new product that she swears the gays are going to love.

“I know you all go to the gym all the time and work out. We have this little shaker that you put all your protein shakes and stuff in and you shake it up real quick and it blends it without all those big lumps,” she explains. “You don’t want a big lump in your mouth when you’re at the gym. Maybe afterward in the locker room, but that’s different.”

Look for that and plenty of other products to be demonstrated like never before at her party. And because she says the “homosectionals” like beautiful things, she promises you’ll be happy just to sit and stare at her on stage.

“I’m just lucky Jesus made me pretty. I have nice legs and can have sex like a trucker for a month. I might not be able to cook real well and I might not be able to add stuff together without a really big calculator, but that’s what Asian people are for,” she says. “Everybody has their niche.”

And Dixie’s niche is one that can’t be filled by just anyone.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

President of Oklahoma LGBT center arrested on charges he had sex with a minor

As we mentioned earlier, Nathan Bowen, president of the LGBT center in Enid, Okla., has been arrested on charges of “lewd molestation of minor” following allegations that he exchanged sexually explicit texts and later engaged in oral sex with a 15-year-old he met at the center, according to reports by News 9 in Oklahoma City.

Nathan Bowen

But Brittany Novotny, Bowen’s attorney, said in a written statement that the 15-year-old attempted to instigate a sexual encounter with Bowen and when Bowen refused, the teen lied about the incident to his mother and police to get back at Bowen for turning him down.

According to police reports, the teenager said he and Bowen began sending each other sexually explicit text messages on Friday, Feb. 18, after meeting at the LGBT center. Bowen then picked the teen up at a park on Sunday, Feb. 20, and took him to a home in the area where Bowen performed oral sex on the boy after asking him to take off his clothes. When Bowen asked the teen to perform oral sex on him and return with him to Bowen’s home, the boy refused, reports said.

The teen told police that he then told Bowen he needed to go home and Bowen returned the boy to the park where his mother picked him up. The mother called police after finding the sexually explicit texts on her son’s phone.

But Novotny’s statement offered a very different version of events, saying Bowen and the teenager had met at a Valentine’s Day event at the center on Saturday, Feb. 19, and that the teen had volunteered to help with chores at the center on Sunday. While the two were engaged in the chores, according to Novotny, the teenager — who is physically larger than Bowen — began kissing Bowen and asking him to have sex. When Bowen refused, the boy became angry, telling Bowen, “I always get what I want.”

—  admin

FWISD to update bullying policy

Director of counseling says officials did not realize sexual orientation didn’t include gender identity, expression, and applauds new bullying awareness campaign

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Report nash@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — When the Dallas Independent School District was lauded recently for becoming the first school district in the state to approve an LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying policy, officials in the Fort Worth Independent School District reacted with consternation.
The Fort Worth District, officials said, had passed such a policy months before, in March.

But the problem, Kathryn Everest, director of guidance and counseling for the Fort Worth district, said this week, was that “We didn’t know what we didn’t know.”

And what school officials didn’t know was that the term “sexual orientation” does not include issues of gender identity and gender expression, Everest said.

“Our policy protects all students,” Everest said, adding that she initially believed simply saying “all students” would be adequate. But she said she understands the need for more specific wording after discussion with those in the community advocating for changes in the policy.

Everest said that she met Monday afternoon, Nov. 22, with gay Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns and Jon Nelson of Fairness Fort Worth. Both men, she said, have pledged to help the district fine-tune the wording of its policies.

“We want to make it plain that everyone is included. Now that we have found out what we didn’t know — that sexual orientation doesn’t include gender identity and gender expression — we will make those changes. We’re not fighting it, and we’re not intimidated by it. We just didn’t know,” Everest said.

She added that the policy in question relates specifically to students. The district also has a mirror policy protecting faculty and staff members, and it, too, will be updated, Everest said.

“We want our policies to align with the city of Fort Worth’s policy,” she said. The Fort Worth City Council voted last year to amend its nondiscrimination ordinance, which already included protections based on sexual orientation, to include specific protections based on gender identity and gender expression.

Another point of confusion centered on the wording of Fort Worth’s anti-bullying policy itself. The policy defines bullying, gives examples and outlines the procedure for reporting incidences of bullying and for investigating those reports. But it does not enumerate specific groups protected under the policy, as the Dallas ISD policy does.

Everest explained this week that the Fort Worth ISD’s “Freedom from Bullying” policy is an extension of the district’s “Freedom from Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation Policy, which reads:

“The District prohibits discrimination including harassment, against any student on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, or on any other basis prohibited by law, that adversely affects the student.”

Everest said FWISD officials now recognize that, technicalities aside, the bullying policy should also include that wording — with the addition of gender identity and gender expression — so that it is clear.

Although gender identity and gender expression were not among the protected categories listed, evidence of the district’s intention to provide protections based on those categories exists in the discrimination policy, under the category of examples:

“Examples of prohibited harassment  may include offensive or derogatory language directed at another person’s religious beliefs or practices, accent, skin color, gender identity or need for accommodation … .”

‘It’s not okay’

While the Fort Worth school district may be lagging behind the Dallas ISD in perfecting the wording of its nondiscrimination and anti-bullying policies, Fort Worth is several steps ahead of Dallas when it comes to it’s anti-bullying campaign, Everest said.

The district implemented the “It’s not okay” campaign at the beginning of the current school year, focusing each month on a different aspect of harassment. Topics are “bullying, cyberbullying, sexting, teen dating violence, suicidal thinking, sexual harassment, use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs and gangs.

The campaign includes efforts to explain each topic and to promote the district’s procedures for reporting and investigating offenses. A primary component, Everest said, is the “Friends 4 Life” hotline that anyone can call to report specific incidents or concerns. Students discovered to be targets of bullying or harassment are paired with counselors who work with them and help them find other resources if necessary, Everest said.

She said students had input in designing the campaign, helping choose the topics and suggesting ways to address each one. The district also has designed posters on each topic to be displayed in schools, as well as billboards that are going up each month around the city.

“By the end of the school year, we will have billboards across the city addressing each one of these topics,” Everest said. “There is a kind of entrenched generational acceptance of certain kinds of harassment and bullying — the idea that it’s just what kids do, and you need to get over it and move on. That’s what we have to change. We have to say to the whole world that it’s not OK.

“And this [campaign] is not just a flash in the pan, not just a one-time thing,” Everest continued. Our goal is to make it an ongoing program, something that is deep and broad and addresses all the angles. That’s how you change the social norms. That’s how you stop the bullying.”

She added, “This is all a learning process for us. We are making corrections and improvements as we go along. We thought we were covering everything, and now that we know we didn’t, we will make the changes we need to make.

“Our goal is to make our entire educational community as safe as possible — our students, our faculty and our staff. And we will do what we need to do to make that happen.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 26, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Dallas ASOs win fight to keep client info off Web

DSHS wanted patient notes added to secure online server to help in audits; agencies say risk to confidentiality was too great

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Raeline Nobles
LEADING THE FIGHT | Raeline Nobles, executive director of AIDS Arms Inc., took the lead in negotiating with DSHS to keep AIDS service organizations from being forced to put confidential client information on an online server.

Local AIDS agencies have prevailed over a Department of State Health Services mandate to post all confidential client notes on an Internet database.

The agencies began battling the mandate after state officials claimed that ARIES, the new database, would be secure but could not provide a list of who would have access to the system to the agencies.

“That hit me like a brick,” said Don Maison, executive director of AIDS Services Dallas.

He said immigration status, incidents of domestic violence and other personal information would all become public. He sent his staff for training on the system but instructed agency employees not to enter any information.

Bret Camp, associate executive director of health and medical services at Nelson Tebedo Clinic, said, “We have information available for review. We will not be entering information in ARIES.”

Dallas County sided with local AIDS service providers. After almost a year of negotiations, the state compromised and will allow agencies to provide the data needed by the state without posting confidential notes on line.

The only objections to using the system came from Dallas.

Raeline Nobles, executive director of AIDS Arms, said all agencies funded by Ryan White Part B money in Texas would be affected.

Houston doesn’t receive this type of funding. Agencies in other parts of the state told Nobles they were too small to fight the new mandate.

That left Dallas organizations to lead the fight to protect personal information from being compromised on line.

“We were successful,” said Nobles, who led the opposition and negotiated with the state on behalf of the county and Dallas AIDS service providers.

“DSHS has come back and decided to negotiate a fair and equitable deal,” she said. “Austin has done the right thing on behalf of clients and agencies.”

The state agency told both Nobles and Maison that it needed all of the client notes to audit the agencies. They said allowing state officials to examine the agencies without traveling to the various locations across the state would save money. The state, however, pays the county to review agency records.

Greg Beets, DSHS public information coordinator for HIV/STD programs, said that the reason behind ARIES is to codify and evaluate HIV services across the state. He said confidentiality was the state’s biggest concern as well.

“The data helps provide a snapshot of what services are being provided and identify unmet service needs,” Beets said.

Beets said that the system met standards developed at a national level and a series of measures would ensure security. Those measures included limited access to the information on a need-to-know basis, security at the building in which the computer was housed and encrypted information.

Those assurances did not satisfy Dallas AIDS agencies. Nobles pointed out that from time to time information is compromised from financial institutions that spent quite a bit of money on their technology.

“If information ever got out to the public, we’d be liable,” Nobles said.

Several years ago, the state required AIDS organizations to invest millions in new computer record keeping systems. She said all of the information is currently kept on a secure computer database within the agency. That computer system is not Internet-based.

Nobles’ agency raised several hundred thousand dollars to satisfy the unfunded mandate to build their database, and, she said, Parkland spent more than $1 million on their system.

To move the information to the new state computer system would be a complete waste of that money the state required her to raise from local donors, Nobles said.

She explained she feared moving the information off the database to a state system would compromise her credibility with her agency’s donors.

“But privacy is the number one issue,” Nobles said. “We can’t build a reliable relationship with clients if they don’t believe it’s confidential.”

Maison was even more adamant.

“This agency would be in court,” Maison said. “It wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to see what this policy does to make people run from care.”

Maison said people with HIV who use public services give up quite a bit of their privacy, “But to invite the government into your daily life is not acceptable.”

Nobles said she was never arguing about the state’s right to see AIDS Arms’ records. “Any time a government public health funder needs to audit, they can do so,” she said. She said that the information the state needs is statistical information.

But, Nobles added, she couldn’t imagine what use the client notes would have been.

The state will maintain the ARIES system. Nobles said smaller agencies, especially in rural areas that could not afford their own database, might want to use it.

Maison was happy with the outcome.

“I don’t recall being on the same side as the county before,” said Maison, who has headed ASD for more than 20 years.

Camp was also pleased with the outcome. “I’m very pleased Dallas County understood the importance of client confidentiality and backed the service providers,” he said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 13, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas