The Lower East Side was once the exclusive domain of New York City’s poorest immigrants and most brazen drug dealers. Over the years, the neighborhood has been co-opted by million dollar condos, but Dr. Dave Ores (or Dr. Dave as locals have known him for 13 years), isn’t beating the anti-gentrification drum. Instead, in his street-front medical office—which looks like a lowbrow art gallery because it is—Dr. Dave powers up his laser equipment and offers expensive services like body hair and tattoo removal, facial rejuvenation, and wrinkle reduction to LES’s wealthy new residents. It’s these luxury services that help fund his family practice while he provides free or low cost medical care to the uninsured and low-income locals, people who live in the projects a few blocks from $700-a-night hotel rooms.
“This isn’t some altruistic thing,” he says. “Health care is a basic human right.” Get the good doctor talking about the state of health care in American and he can go on for hours. And he has, as host of Medically Incorrect, a popular medical show on NY cable TV where he blasted the insurance companies for “complicating the health care system, making billions for themselves, and having no real purpose.”
Cameras may soon follow Dr. Dave around his offi ce too. A reality show pilot called Dr. Dave of the Lower East Side is in the works, and plans to feature patients walking in with various problems, health puzzles that Dr. Dave must solve. The show seeks to capture the country doctor vibe in the big city—one that is very real and not played to the cameras. Dr. Dave runs his practice virtually solo, like doctors did in the days before insurance companies, when patients could call the office, reach the doctor directly, and come in for a visit to get treated. Except he doesn’t have the folksy annoyance of Dr. Phil. Plus, Dr. Dave is a heavily tattooed New York-born biker whose custom Harley is adorned with images of Suicide Girls, Gods Girls, BellaVendetta, and a host of naked and inked women.
Dr. Dave has a thing for tattooed pin-up girls. And pin-up girl tattoos. You can see it when he rolls up his white shirt cuffs and reveals his naked ladies lounging amidst snakes and dragons covering both arms. He also has “MD” in large Gothic letters on his back and a headless samurai on his left calf, among other tattoos. The tattoos have never been a problem for patients of the Columbia- educated physician. “When people are sick and need help, they don’t care about the tattoos,” he explains.
Being heavily tattooed, in fact, helps add street cred to his Fresh Start Program, a community service project he runs with local activist Carlos Iansen where he removes visible gang and prison tattoos for free; tattoos that could get in the way of employment for former gangbangers trying to turn their lives around. A fresh start in the new Lower East Side where one tattooed doctor is keeping the balance.