The Buzz: Actor “drags” way to number one Tupperware salesman position
When Kevin Farrell was young he always imagined himself becoming a famous actor, little did he know that he would find his success selling Tupperware instead.
“I would have never thought that Tupperware, working for a company that sells plastic bowls, would have changed my life so much,” Farrell said. “Because it’s not a television studio that made me famous, it’s not a television studio that pays my salary. It’s a company that sells plastic storage containers.”
Kevin Farrell attended Miami University of Oxford, Ohio, as a musical theater major, then moved and worked as an actor in Chicago for ten years. He then landed a role in the television show, “Frasier,” which aired in 1996, and decided to move to Los Angeles, California, and received other television appearances in shows such as “My Name is Earl,” and “Friends.”
However after being talked into Tupperware sales, Farrell has now held the title of America’s number one Tupperware salesman for four consecutive years. But Farrell isn’t your average Tupperware salesman.
He throws on a curly blonde wig, a red and white checkered, denim shirt, “daisy duke” shorts, and red platform heels, transforming into his original character, Dee W. Ieye, and puts his Tupperware show.
Dee was created in 2004 for Farrell’s performance in the “Aid for AIDS, Best in Drag Show,” which he describes as a “beauty pageant for drag queens.”
There were eight contestants and each had to choose a state to represent. Farrell chose Tennessee for Dee, and then created a story around her.
Farrell said that he named his character Dee W. Ieye because it also stood for driving while intoxicated. Dee’s story was that she was the heir to the Jack Daniels fortune, with a slight drinking problem. Anytime Dee would receive 30 days of sobriety there would be a tasting at the distillery and she would have to go, ultimately losing that sobriety.
“She’s just kind of ditzy, she’s not stupid,” he said. “She’s just kind of redneck trailer trash who lives in a trailer in Tennessee.”
Farrell never intended on playing Dee again after the benefit, until his friend in Los Angeles, who was selling Tupperware in his own drag character at the time, approached him and told him he should do the same.
“I basically told him to go screw himself,” Farrell said. “I said ‘look I’m not dressing up like a woman and I’m not going into peoples homes and I’m not selling Tupperware so just forget about it.’”
Farrell said his friend asked him several times until he ended up caving and going for it.
“He just came back and asked me over and over again and I finally said yes just to shut him up because I was tired of him asking me,” he said.
That was in 2005. Farrell remained in Los Angeles, selling Tupperware as Dee with the occasional visits back to his hometown of Columbus for his Tupperware parties. He has now recently moved back to Columbus and resides in Powell, Ohio, performing at least four Tupperware shows a week, on average.
“When I realized that everybody loves her here, I would come home twice a year for four years in a row to sell Tupperware,” Farrell said. “All the girls in Columbus would just go crazy for me so I would come home and I would say ‘what do you think about me moving back here, do you think my business would survive in Columbus?’ and they were like ‘oh my god are you kidding me, we would love to have you here and we know that your business would do really well here.’”
For Farrell’s Tupperware parties, he shows up to your house about an hour early, before the guests arrive, to make his transformation into Dee, and then becomes a whole different person to make his sales pitch and interact with the guests.
“Once I put her heels on and once I put the wig on my head, I really become a different person, I sort of put Kevin on a shelf just like you would if you were an actor,” he said. “You sort of become that person. I embody her. She speaks in a different way, she has a little bit of an accent, my voice goes up a little in modulation and I just become silly, a different person.”
Despite the fact that what Farrell is doing is often described as “drag,” he doesn’t use that word to describe himself. Instead he’s referred to as an actor.
“I’m not a drag queen that sings on a stage in a gay bar a Diana Ross number,” he said. “I’m not that person, I’m an actor who plays this character so I don’t even think about myself as a drag queen.”
Farrell said that although the show is essentially about selling Tupperware, his goal is to entertain.
“The sale of the Tupperware, of course ultimately that’s my goal, I don’t want to come to your house and entertain all your friends and leave and not have anybody buy anything, but really its about having fun,” he said. “I want people to have a good time, I don’t want anyone to come to one of my parties and have a bad time because I think the world we live in today is tough and I think we all face challenges on a day to day basis and I don’t think that we laugh enough.”
Farrell asks for a minimum of 25-30 guests for his parties but also offers a more intimate and low scale option, called “Kevin’s Kitchen,” in which he doesn’t dress up as Dee, but instead gives a cooking lesson as Kevin.
Farrell will also be at The Garden Theater, Wednesday, as a fundraiser for the theater.
He will perform exactly what he would if was to do a Tupperware party, except there will be a $10 charge at the door.
Although this isn’t how Farrell expected to become a known actor, he can’t see himself doing anything else.
“I always wanted to make money doing what I do best and that is to perform and be an entertainer. I thought that moving to California, I was going to be that famous person in television and what happened is I became, in a way, a famous person through my character Dee W. Ieye selling Tupperware,” Farrell said. “So it came to me, but it came to me in a different package which is amazing. I tell people all the time, your dreams can come true, and you can get what you ultimately want but it may not come exactly in the package that you think its gong to come to you in.”
“All you have to do is just be open to it. Never underestimate the fact that what you’re saying no to could completely change your life.”
Short North Stage Presents: A Tupperware Evening with Dee W. Ieye will start at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 23 at The Garden Theater. 1187 N. High Street. Details about the event can be found at www.shortnorthstage.org.