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Dr. Dot: Building an empire one massage at a time

Shannon Smith · 9 Mar 2010, 16:24

Published: 09 Mar 2010 16:24 GMT+01:00

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Since arriving in Berlin in 1989, the Connecticut native Dot Stein has turned her passion for massage into a globe-spanning business catering to high-profile politicians (Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili), celebrities (American Idol’s Simon Cowell) and rock stars (Sting). As Dr. Dot she also offers advice to the lovelorn and sexually challenged.


Dot Stein a.k.a. Dr. Dot


Late 30s

Where do you live now?

I split my time between Berlin and New York. I lived in Berlin non-stop from October 1989 to 2002. That's when I decided to start going back and forth.

What were you doing before you came to Germany?

I was massaging the Grateful Dead. But I also did odd jobs. I was a photographer. I sold bracelets I made at Grateful Dead shows. My family definitely got me started on going to Dead shows at a very young age: I started going to concerts when I was two years old.

What brought you here in the first place?

I met a German at a Grateful Dead show in Hartford, Connecticut and fell in love. We followed the Grateful Dead together for another eight months. Then I got pregnant, we had the baby there and then moved here. So I came for love pretty much.

What was your very first job in Germany?

I had a whole bunch of stupid jobs because I couldn't speak German. I worked at the Europa Center Irish Pub as a waitress, I was a cleaning lady for a couple weeks. I hated it all. I was a Madonna doppelgänger. I worked at the American PX in the shoe department, and the army wives complained every single day about my clothes. So I finally got fired, they just hated me. I was also doing the Madonna shows at the time, so I looked like her with the hair and the eyebrows. Then I finally studied some German and got a job at a massage clinic where I worked for six years. It's not like I got big overnight.

How did you find those first jobs when you came?

Many people who come to Germany can't speak German, so they try to work in Irish pubs. I got the Madonna job selling some of those leftover bracelets from the Grateful Dead on the Ku'damm... on rollerskates no less! This guy came up to me one night and offered me a job. I thought he was trying to chat me up, so I told him to piss off, but he said "No, no... really". So then I had to learn Madonna's music and lyrics and all this stuff. I wasn't really a fan back then like I am now. I'm more of a Hippie, so it was really hard, but it was fun.

How did you decide to become a masseuse?

Well, I really became a masseuse when I was five years old massaging my parents. So this is really a hobby that turned into a career. It was something I'd been doing my whole life. And at this point, I'm more of a dispatcher than a masseuse: I've got about 300 people working for me. People get fired and hired every single day. It's just like a revolving door. They're not employees, they're more like independent contractors. I'm just a dispatcher. I still massage big stars, it's not like I'm too lazy to massage. But most of the time, it's being on the computer answering a thousand emails a day. I also write a sex column for Penthouse magazine, and I've written one for Exberliner magazine for eight years now.

Do you personally train the masseuses?

No, they all have to be certified. They have to have their own insurance, their own diplomas. I don't have a school or anything. But they all have to audition by giving a free massage. It used to be that they all had to come to me in Berlin, to pass this audition. These days, we just require that they make it to the nearest "DotBot," as we call them. Half of them I haven't even met, not because I don't want to, but just because I don't have the time. I'm very fair, I take a very small commission. They're basically renting my contacts from me. And they get their hands on some really big stars. Some of my girls have gotten to massage Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney. So it's good for people who like music. Some of the people on my team only want to do rich businesspeople in hotels.

You speak German now?

Ich muss aber deutsch sprechen. Na, klar!

What was the most difficult part of adjusting to life in Germany?

There's so much hostility in Berlin. I don't really know much about Germany. I know about Berlin. Goethe had a quote: "There’s a bold breed of people that live together in Berlin for which delicacy is of hardly any use. One must have hair on one’s teeth and be a little rough sometimes in order to keep one’s head above water." This quote still holds true today. And he said it like a million years ago. He's talking about how incredibly bitchy the Berliners are. It's just insane. Even Goethe noticed it, and he hit the nail right on the head. I totally understand what he means. I really can't speak for all of Germany because I keep hearing that they're friendlier everywhere else. But in Berlin, they're only friendly when the sun shines. And we know how often that is.

What's the toughest situation you ever found yourself in here?

I've been knocked out when I was jogging. I was attacked. I've been attacked twice by German men, and they got away with it. I don't like that nobody has respect for, or fear of, the law. The law is afraid of the people, so you can basically get murdered, and the person's going to get off in a year or two anyway.

What's been your favourite thing about Germany?

I think it's positive that Germany is very liberal and Berlin is very inexpensive. The rent is very, very cheap. And you feel more free here. Nudity and hookers are legal, and you can drink on the streets. But on the other hand it's sometimes too liberal. Like when I get attacked, beat up when I'm jogging, and the guy gets away with it.

How much time do you split between German and English when you're in Berlin? I speak about 90 percent English and 10 percent German these days. When I order food I speak German, when I take a cab, I speak German. I mean, I'm not one of these people who comes here and forgets they're American. I can speak German quite well, but if I hang out with Germans, they always insist on practicing their English with me. I try! I'll speak German, and they'll just answer me in English. They refuse to speak German with me, and it really pisses me off, because when I had a baby with a big stroller, nobody would help me up and down the stairs to the U-Bahn or up onto the bus. But you're damned if you do, you're damned if you don't. If you ask them in English they assume you're not trying, and if you ask them in German, they answer you in English anyway because they want to practice their English.

Story continues below…

What fascinates you most about Berlin?

I'd say the architecture. Like... wow. The men are definitely hot. That's the superficial side. And as far as architecture goes, I'm not talking about the shitty buildings that went up after the war. I'm talking about Gendarmenmarkt and its beautiful buildings. It's just majestic. And there's a lot of water in Berlin. There's a lot of green and a lot of water. Germany is generally extremely clean, and I really like that. The people are also more honest than they are in America. Dependable. But they're slow. And arrogant. I mean you can't win, there's no perfect place. I can't decide, which is why I live in two places.

Do you feel Germany has changed you as a person?

I became tougher. And more efficient. More punctual. I was late for everything when I moved here. I was a hippie thinking: "Whatever!" Now I'm really punctual. I'm very dependable. So, some parts of me are quite German. But I still have that New Yorker drive.

Do you ever feel especially embraced by Berlin?

Some people love me and some people hate me. I'm alone a lot. I don't go out very much because I don't smoke, I barely ever drink, and if I do it's one glass of wine a month. When you run your own show, you can't go out and hang out like a bunch of losers in a bar all the time. But people who read my column, I think they embrace me, they love me. The more popular you become, the more successful you become, the more fans you'll have and the more enemies you'll have.

What would be your advice to someone trying to "make it" in Germany?

You have to learn German right away. I learned by watching Sesame Street in German. You have to learn German. Because you don't want others having the upper hand. I actually think it's pretty easy to make it here because no one else wants to work. If you're a hard worker, you'll be successful. But then again if you're lazy and just want to collect money from the government, you can also get by just fine. It's just really easy to make it here if you're driven and you're ambitious. But Berlin is a bit like an amazing ex-lover. You can't live with them and you can't live without them.

Know someone who's "made it" in Germany? Email us at: editorial@thelocal.de

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Shannon Smith (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

18:03 March 9, 2010 by dcgi
What a terrible 'shopped image. i.e., look at the hair and left arm/palm :-S
19:52 March 9, 2010 by Thames
With Dr. Dot's advice I feel I can now make it in Berlin.

I wish somebody told me earlier that I had to work.
23:52 March 9, 2010 by wxman
dcdi, I doubt your comment (sarcasm noted) would deter me. If she were prepared to massage, I think I'd be more than ready.
02:49 March 10, 2010 by sirfish
Now this article, and this Schlampe brings this website to a entire new level of Low.

This woman is supermarket tabloid rubbish.

Typical American "Like, Oh My God." She lives here that long, and speaks only 10% German. She is an Idiot. This woman is a /Paris Hilton/Lindsay Lohan type MUTT! And the Crap she writes in the Ex Berliner, is not even worth mentioning.

Come on TL, you cant find any other interesting people besides this Dirty Mop?

04:43 March 10, 2010 by hanskarl

08:37 March 10, 2010 by jennieerin73
Dot, you were 33 in March 2002. That makes you now.... 41. You look good so why lie?
09:38 March 10, 2010 by dcgi
@sirfish, I have to agree that the advice she gives in the Exberliner is sometimes pretty terrible. One example in the most recent issue was a girl who dumped her boyfriend, he got his life together, got fit etc. and now the silly bint wants him back because he looks good and she's envious, she stalks him on facebook etc! Her advice was ways to win him back, my advice would have been "you made a decision you have to live with, bad luck, move on you possessive superficial, stalking mental case, you were obviously holding him back".
11:16 March 10, 2010 by MaKo
-"typical American" -

There are American women who live here in Germany, conduct their lives very nearly 100% in German, even with an understanding of some cooky dialect or another, who are not going to be so excited about those words.

And most of them don't say "Like, Oh My God."
16:34 March 10, 2010 by dbert4
She'll still pretty, if her massages come with a, "happy ending" I'm in.
17:31 March 10, 2010 by William Thirteen
what an ill-tempered bunch
23:10 March 11, 2010 by paisleyduck

Perhaps if you had a better command of the English language, you would have understood this sentence (along with the rest of the paragraph) much better:

"I speak about 90 percent English and 10 percent German these days."

She is saying here that she voluntarily speaks very little German. It does NOT mean that she doesn't know any German or even enough to get by. She then continues on to give reasons why she does not use as much German, and mostly it is because Germans are pricks about their language. I know, I agree, because I spent some time living in Berlin, and I know for myself that Berliners will get pissy with you for not using German, but also become equally as angered if you do attempt to use the language. You are damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

What I don't understand, is why Germans have to get all haughty and uppity about their perfect language and having the perfect accent, when I know a lot of Germans who sound ridiculous when they speak their broken English.

And YES, ich kann auch Deutsch, so shove it.
02:29 March 12, 2010 by sirfish
@paisley moosh e

I think you missed the context of the message.

And you sound like a whiney w ank r.

Im so happy you can speak some German though.

Especially for a gringo.

Now give that little boy a cookie!
08:15 March 12, 2010 by biker hotel harz
Massage you say? Madonna you say? Erm.............
11:31 March 12, 2010 by DeeDeeLynn
@ sirfish

You are such a hater.

I am an English native speaker here in Germany and I too can speak ALMOST fluent German and my friends ALSO make me speak English all the time. She didn't say she CAN NOT speak German, she explained she only speaks it 10% of the time. Why are you such a hater? You don't even know her (I do!)


Everyone can earn sympathy, ENVY must be earned now please stop spreading hate around, it is sickening.
12:00 March 12, 2010 by mikastasio

You FACKING rock. These people are WANGKURS. Great article!


Mike Pedersen

"this comment rejected due to profanity" -- what a bunch of HORSESHEET!
13:51 March 12, 2010 by CeliaDorne
Wow. This is very very sad. But also very very easy to see through. I wont comment on this but really would like to say something in my name and the name of my colleagues:

I am a German Marketing & PR Manager working for a big international agency intersecting Dot's business. In the industry Dot is very well known as a highly professional, reliable and well reputated person. She and her stafff deliver excellent service since the very beginning of her work.

After 25 years in the business I can say that she belongs to the very few that include ethics into everything she does. Its a pleasure to work with her and its a please to see that people love and appreciate her and her staff's service. A unique, passionate and truly lovable person I dont want to miss.

Oh and I wish my English was as good as her German, folks. So please stop this - if your behaviour wasnt so sad and disgusting, I'd call it ridiculous, really.
14:20 March 12, 2010 by AardvarkSpark
I've been an online friend of Dot's for a few years, met her once at a Zappa event and am of the opinion that she's a very interesting person. She's created a unique business, she's created a unique life for herself and she's not intimidated by you, no matter who you are. For the person who complained about the 90/10 ratio, try re-reading the article, this time maybe using a finger on each word and saying the words out loud, and you might understand why you made yourself look the fool. I like Dot, she's good people. I'm looking forward to when she finally publishes her book.
15:32 March 12, 2010 by benbanks
This is very strange.

I remember meeting this person briefly on a party once in Berlin Mitte.

A friend introduced her only as DOT and I actually thought that she was a stripper, female impersonator or someone hired as a joke to entertain the men.

I only said "HI" as she seemed very Superficial and Flaky.

Later in the evening, I overheard someone saying that she had told them she slept with someone from the Rolling Stones.

I guess anyone that flaunts herself as a sex therapist, massage queen and calls herself DOT can expect some turned heads though.

But it sounds as if she has her fans and marketing people all lined up.
16:54 March 12, 2010 by AardvarkSpark
DOT is the nickname for Dorothy, in America. Like Chuck is for Charles, Bert is for Bertrund, Matt is for Matthew.

As for the rest of your post, it's pretty transparent.
20:07 March 12, 2010 by Elextacy
I think Dot is a very interesting person . Her love for music is evident and she has a strong work ethic.Over the years I've spoken with her Via the internet on a variety of topics and I find her witty and intelligent , by the way she doesn't "call herself Dot" she received the nickname Dr. Dot from the late great Frank Zappa.

Her story of how she came to be the character that she is , is quite interesting.

I imagine your need to ridicule her stems from your own life being unfullfilling and utterly boring..

If you wish to criticize someone , go after Al Gore for his Global Warming fraud scheme to enslave the planet , and get over yourself .
15:35 March 13, 2010 by dbert4
"by the way she doesn't "call herself Dot" she received the nickname Dr. Dot from the late great Frank Zappa."

??? Since Frank Zappa has been died almost 20 years (4. Dezember 1993) that pretty unlikely, but hey make a good story or fairy tale.
10:11 March 14, 2010 by Snottie_Dottie
@ dbert4. You have no clue what you are talking about. I went on the 1988 Frank Zappa Broadway the Hardway tour and massaged Frank and his band for free, just to see the sound checks and shows. Frank nick-named me Dr. Dot.


All of the rest of you haters, just remember, live and let live and don't judge people you have never met, it is childish and rude.
15:53 March 14, 2010 by fredrum
I was percussionist with Bing Crosby, way back when, and DOT came in one night, and gave us all free massages. The entire band, production assistants, lighting, stage hands, cleaners, the catering company, (mind you in those days, we had BIG catering companies), even the security got a hand. And she wore the same uniform that she wears today. (mind you, i recon she has had it washed a few times ; )

This woman is a very warm, soft, gentle and compassionate person.
22:43 March 16, 2010 by Joshontour
@Dottie... No need to prove yourself to everyone who questions you, your accomplishments have already proved enough. Linking that picture was more than that guy deserved. He is still wallowing in his misery, consumed by his ego. The haters are just frustrated and jealous, knowing that they are incapable of achieving the same amount of success that you have had.
11:39 March 17, 2010 by dbert4

I said that you were hot what more do you want, a massage?
14:21 March 17, 2010 by benbanks
So we are evil haters because we dont buy the hype from this name dropping, rubbish writing Ditz queen?
00:35 March 27, 2010 by VelvetHeart67

"The haters are just frustrated and jealous..."

Agreed, my friend....
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