In an interview that appeared in the 16th March 2003 edition of The Sunday Times Magazine, I read the following: “Frank Zappa gave me my nickname…because he referred to me as the doctor. I burped during his sound check and he kept it on his The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life album.”
Intrigued, I checked out the website of the shapely ‘masseuse to the stars’ who uttered these words. There I found pictures aplenty of her hero, Frank – as well as Dweezil, Ahmet, Robert Martin, Mike Keneally, Scott Thunes, Ed Mann, Vinnie Colaiuta, Mr Sting and on and on. So I tracked her down and had a nice little chat with her.
A few months later, she helped me secure tickets to see the Rolling Stones at Twickenham through her friendship with the band’s long-time friend and road manager, Alan Dunn.
In 2007, we finally met at Zappanale in Bad Doberan and she proved to be a really lovely lady: very bright and vivacious. Bruce Bickford seemed particularly taken with her! We have been firm friends ever since.
Now you can share a few moments with Dorothy “Dot” Stein, aka Dr Dot.
Tell me how Frank recorded you burping?
Well, after a few years going with various bands – at 17, I went on tour with the Grateful Dead, then I was invited on tour with the Rolling Stones – I decided to go to college in New Hampshire. I went to see Frank in Boston and tried to be a normal person; didn’t try to meet the band.
But as my girlfriend and me were leaving the show, Scott Thunes knocked on the car window. I thought, “I’m a fucking rock star magnet!” Anyway, he says, “Do you know where the Holiday Inn is? I was signing autographs too long and missed the tour bus.” So he got in our car, we went to a club, got some pizza and coke, had a burping contest… and Scott put our names on the guest list for every show!
During the tour, we went to one of the band’s sound checks in Portland, Maine. I couldn’t believe it, there were only a couple of other fans there. The band was rehearsing Ravel’s Bolero and suddenly I started burping. Frank stops the band and says, “Who did that?” So I’m like, “Sorry Frank – it was me.” And he said, “Come up here, I want to make a sample.” I explained that I’ve got to have coke. So he says, “Somebody get her a Pepsi.” I said, “No, it’s gotta be Diet Coke.” So he says, “Get her a Diet Coke.” Eventually I managed three or four burps. He used them throughout the tour whenever he wanted to send up Jim and Tammy Bakker.
Where can we hear these on the The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life album?
My burps are best heard in A Few Moments With Brother A. West. Have a listen and hear my long ass burps!
Were you massaging at this time?
Yes, but I wasn’t professional back then – I didn’t have a table. I massaged the whole band – on chairs, on the floor, everywhere. But Frank wouldn’t take his shirt off – he couldn’t relax, he was a workaholic. I just massaged his hands. Ike Willis wouldn’t take his shirt off, either. But Scott was a big massage fan. It sounds kind of surreal now, but at the time it didn’t seem that way.
Were you a fan of Frank’s before then?
Oh God, yes. My hippie father took me to see him before I could even talk. I don’t know how many of my panties are in that quilt! I used to wear a ‘Titties N Beer’ T-Shirt to school. I was raised on Frank. My mum liked The Beatles, but my dad was really into Frank. Still is. His favourite album is the Guitar one, which is my least favourite. Let’s face it, that’s a guy album.
Well, that’s the odd thing – not many girls like Frank at all.
I know. That’s what was so great about it. His concerts were all guys, no women and because they like Frank, they’re usually very funny. It was paradise for me.
When I lived in Germany, I had all these Frank fans visiting me. They love his music, but they don’t really understand the lyrics. I had to translate them and try and explain what they meant. I was in Berlin the night Frank died and got drunk on cider – I don’t usually drink – and ended up singing his songs all night. I came back to the US about a year ago, but I also still somehow live in Berlin; I still have a flat there, all for me. I go back every four months. But I’m in NYC to pursue a career, in music – no, not really, hee hee – I am aiming for TV, baby! Comedy. And you can bet yer British ass I will be preaching Frank every chance I get, like I have done in Germany for years.
I know Project Object – I massaged the drummer last time they played the BB King Club during intermission. I was surrounded by male Zappa fans and they were questioning my Zappa knowledge. I was busy blowing them off the map as far as lyric knowledge goes and the drummer came up to me in the middle of all these guys and asked me to massage his hands right then and there.
The guys stood there with their jaws open while I’m massaging Glenn Leonard – who has carpal tunnel. He wants me to bring my table on 5th April to the BB King Club here in NYC and massage him and maybe Ike and the rest.
I was around 18 or 19 years old and wearing the yellow apron Frank made me wear – when me and about five other Zappa fans danced on stage as the Long Island Dance Ensemble[i] during Packard Goose. Wish I could find someone who videotaped that show in March 1988; I would love to see a video of me dancing on stage next to Frank – wearing orange hot mitts and a yellow apron! I have loads of trivial info about Frank. Yesterday I found the apron – which is signed by the whole 1988 band, including Frank and loads of photos from all of his sound checks.
Tell me about your book.
My book, Butt-Naked And Backstage: Diary Of The Worlds Greatest Rock And Roll Masseuse, came out in Germany in 1999. Bruce Willis, with whom I had a brief affair, threatened to sue me for publishing anything about him in the US. I wrote to Gail about it, telling her that I’d written lots of positive things about Frank, but she won’t respond to my emails. I don’t know why.
She does seem a little, er, overprotective.
Maybe she wants Dweezil to run things, I don’t know – now, he’s a hotty!
Interview conducted on Tuesday 1st April 2003. The complete transcript can be found in Andrew’s book Frank Talk: The Inside Stories Of Zappa’s Other People (Wymer UK, 2017). Photo of Andrew with Dr Dot taken backstage at Zappanale #18.
[i] On Zappa '88: The Last U.S. Show, FZ refers to them as 'The Long Island Ballet Company'.
[ii] That changed in 2007 when Dot visited Zappanale and became a mediator between the Arf Society and the Zappa Family Trust. She exchanged a number of emails with Gail regarding her claim that the festival organisers had violated the Trust’s rights. In the event, the higher court in Dusseldorf ruled that the Society could continue to use Zappa’s name and his image on its festival logo and related merchandise as Gail could not prove she used the Zappa brand in Germany herself - finding she had had knowledge of the festival since it began in 1990.