"Guys, I have to leave a little early today. I have my bite massage."
This is a sentence I never thought I'd type into our group chat at work. Yet there I was, scooting out of the office an hour early to head up to my apartment on the Upper East Side, where famed massage therapist Dr. Dot would nibble on my back before rubbing me down.
Dr. Dot is widely known in the music and celebrity worlds as a pit bull massage therapist. That is, she has a rough-and-tumble, far from soothing, style. She's rubbed down just about every star you can think of and isn't afraid to spill her secrets. Kanye West? Check. Mariah Carey? She apparently likes to watch Mean Girls on repeat while getting rubbed down. The Rolling Stones? Dr. Dot actually went on tour with them. She is known for deep-tissue massages — no tickling touches or whale sounds playing over the speakers here.
This is all right up my alley. My mother and I have similar ethos when it comes to massage: Beat the hell out of me, or get the hell out. So I was pretty excited when I met Dr. Dot outside of my apartment to assist her in muscling her massage table up to my tiny studio. (Full disclosure: My session was complimentary. Thanks, Dr. Dot!) I was immediately turned on by her energy — she's got a lot of it. We bonded over classic rock and tattoos as she set up her table.
"I typically don't bite people the first time that I massage them," Dr. Dot explained as she spread red terrycloth sheets over the table. "It's usually something that I offer clients I've been massaging for a while." The idea didn't scare me, though. Hell — I'd floated naked in the dark for an hour. I'm down for just about anything.
So, why biting? It's very simple, actually. According to Dr. Dot, biting helps tenderize the muscles and gets the blood flowing ahead of the rubdown. It's almost like the warm-up before a yoga class — it helps get your muscles in prime condition to be massaged, ultimately making the reach deeper and more effective.
When it was time to start, Dr. Dot excused herself to my restroom to brush her teeth while I undressed and situated myself face-down on the table. (She always brushes before and after a bite massage — oral hygiene is key, y'all!) Once she was set, she placed her hands on my spine as a guide and started biting the left side of my back, starting from just above my butt and ending on my shoulder.
It was, without a doubt, the best and craziest sensation I've ever experienced during a massage. Sure, I'd been bitten on my back before in the heat of the moment (ahem), but never in such a clinical fashion. Dr. Dot does one side at a time and covers the entire surface area of your back, avoiding your spine and other bones. Then she moves on to your neck, which also felt pretty stellar. You're basically forced to relax while she's nibbling — if you tense up, it hurts.
The biting lasted about five to 10 minutes (I think), and I feel like I should mention that she never broke the skin. Dr. Dot did mention that my skin raised in some of the places she bit me, but I have crazy-reactive skin that flares up for no reason, so I wasn't surprised. Once the biting was done, Dr. Dot pulled out her oils and moved on to the deep-tissue massage. Piece of advice: If you're not comfortable feeling pain during your massage, then Dr. Dot and her army of Dot Bots are not for you. I should also mention that the massage felt out of this world, but there were a few moments when I actually yelped out in pain.
That's because Dr. Dot doesn't just use her palms and fingers — she gets her knuckles involved. With the knuckle on her thumb (which she calls her "claw"), she uncovered knots in the arch of my foot that I had no idea I had. She was also able to diagnose certain issues I had with my body. Throughout the course of my rubdown, she correctly pinpointed the fact that I have mild scoliosis (something I already knew), and then told me that I should get an adjustment because my pelvis was slightly twisted. "That's why you probably have pain and tightness in your hips," she said. And she was right. She also told me that I need to cut back on my coffee and drink more water, because I was slightly dehydrated. She was also right about this.
At the end of the massage, I felt amazing — definitely sore, but amazing. As she packed up, Dr. Dot told me to drink a ton of water and warned me that I would likely be sore tomorrow. "But you'll feel like a new person the day after," she said. She was right — again. As I write this, it's two days after my massage and I feel like a million bucks. My neck feels looser, I have more energy, and my yoga class this morning was a lot easier.
The best part about Dr. Dot's massages is that they're fairly inexpensive, given her clientele. She charges $150 per hour, and will come to your home. Considering how incredible I feel, I'm sure I'll be hiring her again very soon.
After she left, I settled down with some green tea and pulled out my phone to read my text messages. "Sorry I didn't answer earlier. I was in the middle of a bite massage," I typed to a friend. Five seconds later, my phone was ringing — that same friend was calling to ask what the fuck I was talking about. I laughed. Of all the crazy things I've done as a beauty editor, I'm pretty sure the bite massage ranks as number one.
Curious to see the massage in action? Refinery29's beauty writer, Mi-Anne Chan, tried it LIVE. Check it out in the video below.