Mark Ames

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Mark Ames
EXile editor-in-chief Mark Ames.png
Born (1965-10-03) October 3, 1965 (age 52)
Nationality American
Alma mater University of California, Berkeley
Occupation Journalist, political writer

Mark Ames (born October 3, 1965) is a Brooklyn-based American journalist. He was the editor of the biweekly the eXile in Moscow, from its founding in 1997 until its closing in 2008. Ames has also written for the New York Press, PandoDaily, The Nation, Playboy, The San Jose Mercury News, Alternet, Птюч Connection, GQ (Russian edition), and is the author of three books.


Ames was raised in Saratoga, California, where he attended an Episcopalian private school. He graduated from Saratoga High School in 1983.[citation needed]

After leaving Saratoga, Ames attended the University of California, Berkeley, while living with his father (his parents had divorced when Ames was eight years old). He later described how his college years shaped his later political views in a section of the book The Exile: Sex, Drugs, and Libel in the New Russia:

I was a student at Berkeley in the late Reagan years. We had a lot of ideas back then, big dreams about getting famous and destroying the "Beigeocracy" that we thought stifled and controlled American Letters. Everything seemed possible then: world war, literary fame ... Anyway, something Really Big, with us at the center of it all. We'd ridicule the boring lefties, our enemies. We'd drop all sorts of drugs and go to the underground shows: Scratch Acid, Hüsker Dü, Sonic Youth. It felt like something might happen, and soon.[1]

After college, Ames lived in New York City, Boston, San Francisco, and Prague, and played briefly in a punk band. He also tried writing screenplays.[2]

In August 1991 he visited Europe, spending two weeks in St. Petersburg (at that time called Leningrad). Though he returned to live in Foster City, California, he continued thinking of Russia, and delved into Russian literature. After spending mid '92 to early '93 in Prague, Ames moved to Moscow. In 1995 he published "The Rise and Fall of Moscow's Expat 'Royalty'" in the English-language Moscow newspaper The Moscow Times, and was shortly thereafter hired by its competitor Living Here.[3]

In 1997 he established the eXile, where he served as writer and editor, and shortly after founded it, he hired Matt Taibbi.[4] In The eXile, Ames wrote on such topics as politics, organized crime in Russia, prostitution, and drug use. The paper played practical jokes on Pravda staffers and public figures including Mikhail Gorbachev.[5] In 2000 Ames and Taibbi published The Exile: Sex, Drugs, and Libel in the New Russia.[6] Chicago Reader contributor Martha Bayne reviewed the book, and wrote: "The product of Ames and Taibbi's union is rude, cruel, pornographic, self-aggrandizing, infantile, and breathtakingly misogynist, with a dozen pages of news and another dozen of gonzo entertainment listings. It's also one of the biggest success stories of the tiny, incestuous world of expatriate Moscow. Pranks are sharper--and meaner--than others, but they're all conceived under a towering belief in the righteousness of the paper's mission. The Exile has kept up a holy racket, railing away against stupidity, corruption, and influence peddling . . . It has covered mind-numbingly complex topics like privatization in a straightforward style that's not only comprehensible but actually interesting to a reader with no background in Russian economic history and little enthusiasm for acquiring one."[6]

In October 2017, in the context of the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations and a new book release by Taibbi, passages from the book were highlighted in the media, including: "We have been pretty rough on our girls. We’d ask our Russian staff to flash their asses or breasts for us. We’d tell them that if they wanted to keep their jobs, they’d have to perform unprotected anal sex with us. Nearly every day, we asked our female staff if they approved of anal sex. That was a fixation of ours. 'Can I fuck you in the ass? Huh? I mean, without a rubber? Is that okay?' It was all part of the fun."[7] Ames responded that the book was satirical fiction and the events described never occurred: "The eXile was satirical...The dominant metaphors for the American colonial project in Russia were rape and prostitution; we took those metaphors as fundamental to what was really going on, and tried to make our readers as uncomfortable as possible. We approached this shocking appalling reality—with a shocking offensive satirical aesthetic...I never raped, harassed, assaulted anyone, and it sickens me that I’m dragged into having to make this sort of denial." [8]

In June 2008, the paper's website was closed down by the Russian government and Ames moved back to the U.S.[4] Ames continues to edit the eXile in an online-only format: eXiledonline.[9]

Ames became senior editor at Paul Carr's Not Safe For Work Corporation website in August 2012.[10]


  • The Exile: Sex, Drugs, and Libel in the New Russia (ISBN 0-8021-3652-4). Co-authored with Matt Taibbi, and published in 2000 with a foreword by Edward Limonov.
  • В Россию с любовью (Записки американского изгоя), Мама Пресс, 2002. (ISBN 5-902382-02-5) available in Russia. The title can be translated as To Russia with Love (Notes from an American Outcast).
  • Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond, 2005 (ISBN 1-932360-82-4).


  1. ^ excerpt available online
  2. ^ Gurley, George (June 19, 2000). "From Russia With Lust". 
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Verini, James (February 2010). "Lost Exile". Vanity Fair. 
  5. ^ Longman, Martin (4 April 2017). "Matt Taibbi's tone on Russian interference coverage is all wrong". Washington Monthly. 
  6. ^ a b Bayne, Martha (July 13, 2000). "Beast in the East". Chicago Reader. 
  7. ^ Levitt, Aimee (27 October 2017). "Twenty years ago, in Moscow, Matt Taibbi was a misogynist asshole—and possibly worse". Chicago Reader. 
  8. ^ Ames, Mark (27 October 2017). "About Those Exile Smears". Exiled Online. 
  9. ^ THE EXILED: WE’RE BACK, AND WE’RE VERY PISSED OFF The eXile Retrieved on November 27, 2009
  10. ^

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