Dorothy Stein bites people for a living. But not just any people! No, to get bitten by Dr. Dot, you have to be a famous musician. Yes, “celebrity bite massage therapist” is apparently a viable career path, and it’s one that Stein has pursued for almost 30 years now, amassing a client base that has at various points included David Bowie, Kanye West, Sting, Katy Perry, Eminem, and Frank Zappa, who bestowed the “Dr. Dot” nickname upon her in 1988.
The technique of biting for a more intense massage was taught to Stein by her mother, who also instilled a love of music in her from an early age. But she didn’t end up combining her two passions until 1983, when the then-15-year-old Stein scored free Def Leppard tickets by giving the band members backstage massages. “I went to every Def Leppard show and massaged them,” as she tells Billboard in a new interview. “I built a network with those people and eventually started massaging bands to get into shows.”
Stein estimates that she’s now seen at least 3000 concerts for free. But she didn’t actually start charging for her work until 1994, when Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts insisted that she needed to start charging if she wanted to be taking seriously. On the first of three tours with the Rolling Stones, she made $2000 per week, and she now charges between $150 and $250 an hour and employs a staff of over 1000 like-minded “Dot Bots.” Here’s how Stein describes her special biting technique to Refinery29:
I have many special techniques, but my most controversial one that no one else does is the biting method. Only a small selection of people do it, but it’s definitely a celeb favourite. It is Sting’s favourite; also, Simon Cowell was such a fan that he once flew me from Berlin to London just to be on call to massage and bite him. Naturally, I ask the client if they want to try it first. And then — before adding any oil — I bite the whole back up and down, in a very fluid motion, bit by bit, avoiding any bones. I do the neck and shoulders, and sometimes the glutes, too. I take big bites, obviously not firm enough to break skin, but firm and deep enough to grab and “tenderise” the back muscles, warming them up for the real rubdown that follows. I’ve never hurt anyone doing it; it’s actually divine for the client, as it’s a sensation they’ve never experienced before. They’re marching into the unknown and putting their trust in me.
Other clients of Stein’s include members of the Grateful Dead, Robert Plant, Courtney Love, and Kanye West, whom Stein once massaged in Berlin from 4AM to 6AM. “He listened to Jimi Hendrix and was very down to earth,” she says.” But not everyone likes it: “I’m not just going to bite someone,” she explains. “Mariah Carey didn’t want it. She’s a germophobe.”