Mark Ames

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Mark Ames
EXile editor-in-chief Mark Ames.png
Born (1965-10-03) October 3, 1965 (age 55)
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
OccupationJournalist, 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 closure 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. He co-hosts the podcast Radio War Nerd along with John Dolan.[1]


Ames was raised in Saratoga, California, where he attended an Episcopalian private school. He graduated from Saratoga High School in 1983. He later wrote about a 2003 alleged bombing attempt at his alma mater in Going Postal—Rage, Murder and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond.[2]

After leaving Saratoga, Ames attended the University of California, Berkeley, while living with his father (his parents 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.[3]

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.[4]

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-1992 to early 1993 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.[5]

In 1997, he established the eXile, where he served as writer and editor, and shortly after founded it, he hired Matt Taibbi.[6] In The eXile, Ames wrote on politics, organized crime in Russia, prostitution, and drug use. The paper played practical jokes on Pravda staffers and public figures including Mikhail Gorbachev.[7] In 2000 Ames and Taibbi published The Exile: Sex, Drugs, and Libel in the New Russia.[8] 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."[8]

Ames spoke about his sex life in Moscow during an interview with The New York Observer in 2000: "'Russian women, especially on the first date, expect you to rape them,' said Mr. Ames. 'They’ll go back home with you and say, ‘No, no, no,’ and if you’re an American, you’ve been trained to respect the ‘No,’ because you’re afraid of sexual harassment or date rape, and so you fail over and over. But it took me a while to learn you really have to force Russian girls, and that’s what they want, it’s like a mock rape."[9]

In June 2008, the eXile website was closed down by the Russian government and Ames returned to the U.S.[6] Ames continues to edit the eXile in an online-only format: eXiledonline.[10]

Ames became senior editor at Paul Carr's Not Safe For Work Corporation website in August 2012.[11]

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.

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.[12]


  • 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. ^
  2. ^ Going Postal—Rage, Murder and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond.
  3. ^ excerpt available online
  4. ^ Gurley, George (June 19, 2000). "From Russia With Lust".
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b Verini, James (February 2010). "Lost Exile". Vanity Fair.
  7. ^ Longman, Martin (April 4, 2017). "Matt Taibbi's tone on Russian interference coverage is all wrong". Washington Monthly.
  8. ^ a b Bayne, Martha (July 13, 2000). "Beast in the East". Chicago Reader.
  9. ^ Gurley, George (June 19, 2000). "From Russia With Lust". The New York Observer. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  10. ^ The Exiled: We're Back, and We're Very Pissed Off The eXile Retrieved on November 27, 2009
  11. ^
  12. ^ Ames, Mark (October 27, 2017). "About Those Exile Smears". Exiled Online.

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