Dr. Dot has magic hands; some of the biggest celebrities in the world say her hands are made of steel. Others also claim she likes to bite, a technique she’s developed since becoming the masseuse to the stars in the 1980s.
Indeed, testing her methods, I learned that she indeed gives a firm massage, well worth the $400 she sometimes charges for the service. Fortunately, she didn’t bite.
Dr. Dot – whose real name is Dorothy Stein – is arguably the most famous masseuse in the world, someone who has laid hands on musical legends other people might love to meet.
Stein, who for five years has lived in Jersey City when she isn’t making trips around the world, is something of a legend herself. From selling trinkets outside Grateful Dead concerts as a child, she has built a minor massage corporation with more than 1,000 associates worldwide that she calls “Dot Bots.” Dozens of them are scattered around Hudson County from Bayonne to North Bergen.
If being the masseuse for everyone from Madonna to Mick Jagger wasn’t enough, Stein was recently hired by Buick automobiles to design series of videos to teach drivers how to cope with road rage. She has recently introduced her own cosmetics line as well.
Relax, take a deep breath and massage your way out of road rage
For a car company like Buick that hopes to rebrand its upscale offerings, few people could be so cutting edge as Dr. Dot.
She was in Berlin two years ago when Buick reached out to ask her to help design some stress-relief systems. As a result, she has been featured in a series of videos to help drivers deal with the stress of traveling.
The Buick Encore is the company’s move to update its upscale models, and Dr. Dot was engaged to help create a unique new brand – giving the company a tie-in through her to some of the top international celebrities.
“I wasn’t like your typical groupie.” – Dorothy Stein
Getting hip with massage
Claiming her forefathers were Swedish gypsy horse thieves chased out of England to settle in America, Stein said she spent most of her childhood backstage at rock concerts.
Born and raised in Manchester, Conn. by what she describes as hippie parents, she got a taste for the rock and roll back scene when her parents took her to concerts by performers like Black Sabbath, Melanie, Frank Zappa, and her favorite band, The Grateful Dead. She said she had seen The Grateful Dead more than 20 times before she turned 10 years old.
At home, her parents constantly listened to records by Janis Joplin, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and others. In some ways, going to see musicians play was like running away to join the circus, something she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
She learned to massage from her parents and used to walk on their backs or rub their feet while listening to rock music on the stereo. By age 5, she was very experienced. And this experience inevitably connected massage with music, although she didn’t put the two together until much later, when she started to go to concerts on her own.
“I just didn’t have the money to pay for tickets,” she said.
So she found innovative ways to sneak into concerts she couldn’t otherwise afford. Sometimes, she would agree to give massages to roadies and crew members so they would let her in.
“I wasn’t like your typical groupie,” she said. “I gave massages, not sex.”
But she really wanted to meet the musicians.
Her first real encounter with super stars of rock came in 1982, when she met members of the rock group The Cars outside a concert hall in Williamsburg, Va. They had come out to sign autographs and Stein came to realize that meeting rock stars was not as hard as she thought.
A short time later, she went to a Def Leppard concert and offered a massage to get in and meet the band. She and her friends, although only about 15, made themselves up to look older.
It was the start of something huge.
In 1983, she began to follow her favorite band, The Grateful Dead. She has seen them more than 300 times for free. For most of her high school breaks, she was either seeing the Grateful Dead or The Ramones.
Frank Zappa is the musician who invented her name, calling her Dr. Dot after a session with her. She is particularly grateful for the moniker, since most people in the rock work know her by that name.
Making massage a career
Without being aware of it, Stein had launched a career. So to advance, she decided to study massage and went to Germany, where she spent two years.
She also became a housewife, although she continued to get calls from promoters who invited her to shows. She briefly performed as a Madonna imitator, who she strongly resembles.
In 1994, she got her first paying gig with The Rolling Stones when Charlie Watts paid her $200 for a two-hour session.
Since then the list includes a who’s who of celebrities, including Eminem, Mick Jigger, Courtney Love, Ice-T, Lauryn Hill, Sheryl Crow, Bruce Willis, Sting, Roger Waters, members of Kiss, Aerosmith, Van Halen, Iron Maiden, Paul McCartney, and many others. In fact, the list is so extensive that it would be easier to name the very few super stars she hadn’t massaged.
One of her favorite stars is Deborah Harry, of the one-time Jersey City-based band, Blondie.
Worldwide, she has become nearly as much as celebrity as the people she massages, including once being at the center of a scandal involving the president of Ukraine, who became the target of a political smear campaign.
But Stein said she doesn’t fool around. This is business, not monkey business, although she did briefly date Joey Ramone of the Ramones. She eventually settled down with a clothing vender who looked exactly like John Lennon.
For a while she worked as a waitress, a cleaning lady, and yes, a Madonna impersonator. She even worked at the military PX in the shoe department.
She lived in Berlin non-stop from 1989 until 2002, when she moved to Hoboken where she performed massages out of several locations. After this, she traveled back and forth between the U.S. and Germany.
An army of Dot Bots
She has very strong hands, and has invented her own kind of techniques. Over the years, she started to teach others, and has an army of Dot Bots worldwide, hundreds of people she interviewed personally, to make certain they meet her standards.
These are not employees, but independent contractors who are insured and certified.
“They have to audition for her before they get the Dot Bot name,” Stein said
Over the years, she has also taken up the pen and for a time was a regular sex advice columnist.
Her work with Buick and her introduction of a cosmetic line are sending her in a new direction, she said. This is not to say that she has given up on her career as a masseuse and expanding her army of DotBots.
“I like what I do,” she said.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.