9.VARDAN KUSHNIR. For years some asshole named Vardan spammed the shit out of everyone's email accounts for an English language program. It turns out the money was used to fund his Caligula-esque whoring, which eventually led to Vardan getting bludgeoned to death during a botched whore-led robbery of his Moscow pad.
10.POURBOIRE. Two years ago, a supposedly-great French bistro called "Pourboire" opened up near Mayakovskaya, leading to effusive praise on the expat list. We went to try it, and found not only was the food cafeteria-quality, but worse, the Russian chick who ran it had a serious attitude problem. Result: the restaurant eventually closed, and today it's yet another sushi place.
1.BUNS MCGILLICUDDY. Sick of the Putin-era rise of strict feis control, the eXile joined forces with a team of expats to expose Moscow's elitny pretensions. We dressed up our student-intern Jeremy Lanou as "Buns McGillicuddy," a "famous New York personazh/DJ," gave him a manager, a black bodyguard, two chicks, and a migalka-flashing cop escort, and the next thing you know, club directors at First, Shambala and Tsepellin all claimed to have heard of him, and offered him discreet VIP services.
2.GORBACHEV AS NEW YORK JETS COACH. Posing as Samuil Weiss, we contacted Mikhail Gorbachev's people in 1997 and offered him $150,000 to give halftime pep talks to the struggling team as its "Perestroika Coordinator." Incredibly enough, Gorbachev's people faxed us back saying they were interested. A few months later, he was doing Pizza Hut ads.
3.THE KIRIYENKO LETTER. In the summer of 2004, a letter falsely signed by five American Congressmen accused Kremlin envoy and former prime minister Sergei Kiriyenko of using stolen IMF funds to purchase an American green card. No one knew who wrote the letter, so the eXile took responsibility for it as a joke. Problem was, we had so many successful pranks that everyone, including Kiriyenko's lawyer, the Russian media, and strange people calling us in the middle of the night, all were convinced we did it. So was one of the letter's supposed authors, then-Congressman Henry Bonilla, a Texas Republican close to President Bush. Bonilla responded by writing a letter to the State Department asking them to have Russia arrest Mark Ames just days after Paul Klebnikov was murdered. Last year, Bonilla was voted out of office.
4.KATHY LALLY. In 1998, as the eXile gained in popularity, several people like Stanford's Michael McFaul and Baltimore Sun correspondent Kathy Lally tried to have us censored. Using an American woman's help, we called Lally posing as a group of expats who wanted to arrange a city-wide boycott of the eXile and shut us down. Lally agreed in a taped conversation to help support the boycott - while at the same time fighting for freedom of expression in Russia. She suffered a breakdown, and her husband called Taibbi's father to narc on Matt.
5.NEMTSOV CALL. In 1997, "young reformer" Boris Nemtsov became the new darling of the Western media for, among other things, spontaneously offering his mobile phone number to Japanese businessmen if they ran into troubles in Russia. Posing as Japanese businessman Hoshimoto Godzilla of Mothra Electronics, we took the young reformer up on his word and called his press spokesman, pestering him for the most valuable info a Japanese businessman could ever want: where to find a good golf course.
6.FAKE MOSCOW TIMES ISSUE. On April Fool's Day in 1998, we published a one-to-one copy of The Moscow Times which the American Embassy and the State Duma believed was real. The lead story: newly-appointed prime minister Sergei Kiriyenko had just been fired for getting in a fight after losing a beauty contest in a local gay club. The US Embassy cabled Washington with the news. And we got a call from the Press Ministry.