The following is an interview with celebrity massage therapist Dr. Dot, as told to Megan Cahn.
I began pursuing my craft at age five, when my hippie parents started teaching me massage techniques. They also took me to concerts at a young age — my first was Melanie when I was two. I saw several Grateful Dead shows and other various concerts, including Frank Zappa, before I was even 12 years old. I became a passionate music fan, but knew that as I grew older I would have to find my own way into shows. I began to use bodywork as a way to meet rockers and get into shows for free. I gave my first backstage massage to Def Leppard when I was 15, trading a massage for concert tickets, and eventually ended up seeing more than 3,000 shows for free.
In 1994, Charlie Watts, the drummer for the Rolling Stones, insisted I start charging if I wanted people to take me seriously — he was my first paying client. I then went on three consecutive paid tours with the Stones, though I would have done them for free since their catering is the best in the world. I was originally hired just for Charlie, but I ended up massaging them all. I got to watch the shows from the press pit each night. If Mick would spin or move in certain way, he would end up sweating on me sometimes. It was splendid.
I eventually went to massage school and got licensed, all while growing my star-studded clientele that includes Kanye West, Katy Perry, Paris Hilton, Courtney Love, and many more. I then moved to Berlin, where I worked at a medical-massage clinic from 1994 to 1999. I now work out of Hoboken, New Jersey, but am constantly on the road with my clients, going on tours, etc. I now have a worldwide staff-for-hire of over 1,000 like-minded “Dot Bots” whom I’ve vetted and approved. I refer to them as "the pitbulls of massage" because we focus on deep-tissue. The rubbie-dub stuff doesn’t help — especially for my musician clients.
I met the Cars at age 14, then Def Leppard, the Ramones, and David Bowie, all before I turned 15 (mind you, I didn't look 14!), so being around celebrities doesn’t make me nervous. Even if I was nervous, you could never tell. My motto is, "Never let 'em see you sweat.” I am somehow able to turn any nervous feeling into a relaxed, humorous vibe — I make them laugh, which relaxes me. Frank Zappa made me nervous, but I acted cool. Mick Jagger made me giddy and excited, but I just held it in and smiled. I let it all out when I go out to sing karaoke — all that bottled-up energy and adrenaline comes out on the mic!
The Bite Method
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 favorite. It is Sting’s favorite; 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 "tenderize" 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.
I massaged Mariah Carey until about 6 a.m. while she watched Mean Girls on a loop. [Rates start at $150 per hour; $200 after 10 p.m.; $250 after midnight; $300 after 2 a.m.]. She loves to just chill in bed watching a film and having her feet done for hours. I am exactly the same. A foot massage is never long enough. Also, when I lived in Berlin one of the concert venues had such a tiny backstage area, I had to massage most of the rock stars on a long marble catering table. We would let the rockers eat, then clean off the table for their massages. And it was hilarious hearing the other band members (Oasis, *NSYNC, The Roots, Blur) make fun of the one on the table.
The president of Georgia often came to Berlin for meetings, and I massaged him each time at a different hotel. He invited me to fly on his private jet with him back to Georgia, and I stayed in an amazing hotel for 10 days massaging him each day. In-between, his bodyguards gave me tours of the amazing area. I was nervous when I first landed and got into a separate limo, because some men took my passport and I didn't get it back until I flew home. I was amazed at the power the president had and how he managed to stay so normal, cool, and very funny. I was also flown from Berlin to Venice, Italy, for Bruce Willis. That was divine! He was filming The Story of Us with Michelle Pfeiffer and wanted me to work on him during his breaks and at the end of the evening.
The Longest Rub
I massaged an Australian man once in Berlin for six hours. I worked in a five-star hotel, and the boss told me, "You're booked for six hours," and I said, "So what?" and he said, "No, I mean, one guy for six hours." Turns out he was Australian royalty and asked me not to publicize his name, ever. But it was quite a challenge — I had to take a few bathroom breaks, and one to wolf down a bagel. I was not tired, just thirsty and hungry. I never get tired of giving massages. Just give me water, feed me, and I am ready to go again and again.
When I toured with the Stones and the Grateful Dead, I was massaging pretty much all day and night. Once I massaged a drummer on stage while he was playing. He was drumming for Keith Sweat and had hurt his wrist, and he needed massage every chance he could get — even between songs or during long guitar solos. He was in tough shape, and I helped him through it. I felt very proud of that.
Bruce Willis gave me a $1,000 tip so I could buy my daughter some tortoises. The president of Georgia gave me a gold necklace and a real Georgian sword. Gregg Allman gave me a Tiffany Diamond Key Platinum necklace, though I rarely wear jewelry. Mötley Crüe singer Vince Neil gave me a leather, studded ring back in 1984... I guess he didn't realize I was only 17 AND I was taken (I was dating Joey Ramone at that time). I saved all of those and more. I have guitar picks from every guitarist you can imagine, and drum sticks too.
It’s difficult to choose just one memorable experience. Touring with the Rolling Stones was amazing. I was also flown to London to massage Sting and his wife for Live 8. We all watched The Who perform from the side of the stage (literally on the stage, about 50 feet away from them), and Sting was busy massaging my shoulders while we all enjoyed their performance. Sting’s wife, Trudie, was right next to us. The people around us who didn't know who I was must've been thinking, "Who the hell is that girl being massaged by Sting while his wife is standing right there not protesting?" Ha! Massaging Lady Gaga's feet while Yoko Ono chatted to her...that was pretty cool, too.