She became the Mormon mom that every gay kid wanted to have. While conceiving KRCL’s Now Queer This I wanted something zaney and fun to satirize local Utah culture. I also wanted to tackle the ongoing Gay vs. Mormon conflict in a heartfelt and comical way. I was also determined to collaborate with local actor Charles Lynn Frost.
We discussed at length what we could do new for Utah, how we could push boundaries and challenge dominant narratives. We wanted to create a positive role model that would inspire people, gay and straight alike to rethink their own stories. Soon Sister Dottie S. Dixon was born. Vocally embodied by Frost (and modeled after Frost’s sassy real-life mother) our premise was simple; Dottie was a faithful Mormon housewife from small town Spanish Fork, Utah who was blessed with a gay son. Instead of rejecting her child as many religious parents have done, Dottie would become his ultimate champion. Comedy and conflict ensues as Dottie tries to reconcile the love of her church with the love of her child.
Dottie’s commentaries became so popular on NQT that we eventually spun her off into her own weekly segment, What Not, What Have You and Such as That with Sister Dottie S. Dixon. Charles and I collaborated on the writing of the weekly “Dottiesodes” with Utah’s particular conservative culture consistently providing endless source material for Dottie’s misadventures.
Over time it was obvious where we needed to take Dottie from the radio to stage. We approached Pygmalion Theatre who immediately agreed to produce. Frost and I co-wrote The Passion of Sister Dottie S. Dixon, (with Frost as leading lady) and premiered in May 2009 in Salt Lake City.
The show was a runaway hit. The Passion to our delight had broad crossover appeal. Gay, straight, Mormon and atheists alike all came together and fell in love with Dottie. The Passion was met with rave reviews, sold out crowds, and an immediate demand for a “Second Helpings” revival staged in October 2009 and again in January 2010.
Scene from the The Passion:
When Dottie is arrested in an act of civil disobedience, her rise to fame takes her onto the Utah talk show circuit.
We successfully created a Dottie marketing machine. You couldn’t walk down a street in Salt Lake City without seeing Dottie everywhere. Posters, life-size cut-outs, magazine covers, and mainstream media coverage, television, radio and print followed Dottie’s rise to fame. To further capitalize on our brand, we also collaborated with popular Salt Lake Tribune editorial cartoonist Pat Bagley to produce the coffee table book, The Mormon Kama Sutra — fully illustrated.
Dottie’s popularity crossed over onto the commercial radio station X96. The readers of the Salt Lake City Weekly voted The Passion “Best Original Production”, “Best Original Screenplay” and “Best Performance”. Salt Lake Magazine’s annual Best of the Beehive awarded Dottie “Best One Woman er Man Theatrical Force.” Charles Frost was awarded “Actor of the Year 2009″ by the LDS owned Deseret News. The Huffington Post featured Dottie as a “game changer.” The year of Dottie culminated in City Weekly readers voting Dottie “Best Utahn 2010”, beating out former governor (and current US ambassador) Jon Huntsman Jr.
Marketing video: Dottie Explains the Mormon Plan of Salvation: