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Unfiled February 25, 2005
 
Cohen Lies Alone
"Kevin Dillard" Comes Clean!
 
 

I am "Kevin Dillard," the villainous boyfriend character in Jennifer Beth Cohen's memoir, Lying Together: My Russian Affair (reviewed in eXile #202). I'm the cruel deceiver who dashed her hopes and left her to fly home and try to pick up the pieces of her poor, broken heart.

Jennifer Beth Cohen

Unexpurgated email exchange between eXile editor Mark Ames and Jennifer Beth Cohen's book publicist, Benson Gardner.

Date: Wed, 20 Oct 2004 08:25:36

From: Mark Ames [editor@exile.ru ]

Subject: review copy request for "Lying Together"

To: publicity@uwpress.wisc.edu

Dear Benson,

I am the editor of a Moscow, Russia-based newspaper, "The eXile," and I would like a review copy of Jennifer Cohen's "Lying Together" sent to our reviewer, John Dolan. Our newspaper has been around for over 7 years and has been featured in Rolling Stone and on CNN among others. The web version gets over 3.5 million hits per month. We're in Moscow, but Dr. Dolan is now in New Zealand.

Thank you,

Mark Ames

From: Benson Gardner [mailto:publicity@uwpress.wisc.edu]

Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 2004 7:19 PM

To: Mark Ames

Subject: Re: Fwd: review copy request for "Lying Together"

Hi, again, Mark,

I'm so sorry -- I'm still new at this job -- but when I informed the author about this request, she reminded me that she's trying to be respectful of the other major person in the book (her ex) by not publicizing the book in Russia. I'd forgotten about that, and sorry for making a promise I can't keep. Per the author's wishes, I shouldn't send the book your way.

Again, very sorry.

Benson Gardner

Publicity Manager

University of Wisconsin Press

From: Mark Ames [editor@exile.ru]

Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 2004 7:45 PM

To: 'Benson Gardner'

Cc: 'John Dolan'; 'Jake Rudnitsky'

Subject: RE: Fwd: review copy request for "Lying Together"

Benson,

This is absurd and unbelievably stupid, because now we're going to order the book and we'll be pissed off when we review it. If she was "respectful" of this ex of hers, she would have protected him, not crossed her fingers and hoped no one in Russia would read it. I have a feeling she's just worried about what my newspaper will have to say. And she's right. And you can pass that on to her. In fact, I'm now motivated to find her ex and get the book to him myself.

Mark Ames

From: Benson Gardner [mailto:publicity@uwpress.wisc.edu]

Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2004 12:42 AM

To: Mark Ames

Subject: RE: Fwd: review copy request for "Lying Together"

H, Mark,

You are certainly free to buy the book on the open market, and to run whatever review you see fit.

Best,

Benson Gardner

From: Mark Ames [mailto: editor@exile.ru]

Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2004 12:55 AM

To: 'Benson Gardner'

Cc: 'John Dolan'; 'Jake Rudnitsky'

Subject: RE: Fwd: review copy request for "Lying Together"

Benson,

Thanks for that reassuring lesson on free markets. I had no idea that I had the right to buy Cohen's book on the "open market" and review how I want to. Gee, if this isn't proof that America is a free country, then I don't know what is. Are we lucky or what?! However, after we get through with Cohen's book, I assure you that you and Jennifer Beth will become card-carrying members of the Totalitarian Socialist People's Party.

Mark Ames

At least that's how she tells it.

By now she's perfected her version of the story, having nursed it through rejection after rejection and workshop after workshop for six years. She even had the nerve to consult me from time to time, to help her polish this story of what a bastard I was.

I didn't need to worry, she assured me. My identity would be protected. Then the book came out, containing so many obvious clues that anyone who knew the English-language press in Russia could identify me instantly. And they did.

So, since I'm already notorious as the monster who let down poor Jenny, I may as well tell you what actually happened.

My relationship with Cohen began when she started emailing me for help about a story on the sex trade in Russian women, a story that had already been co-opted for its titillation value by tabloid news shows like the one she worked for. I was in St. Petersburg at the time, and she was in the States.

I remembered Cohen from college and had filed her in my memory as a cute chick I wish I'd fucked before graduation. So, when she made her initial contacts with me on the sex slave story, I was anxious to see if her neo-con talk news show Hard Copy would pick up the tab for a 4,000-mile nookie run. She was having a hard time selling the story to her bosses, who were busy crucifying former US President Bill Clinton with the cigar he stuck up Monica Lewinsky's pussy.

To sweeten the deal, I dropped to her that I had somewhere a receipt that, with a stretch of logic here and there, linked Strobe Talbott, Clinton's Russia policy advisor, to a hooker. The receipt, contrary to her assertion in the book, DID exist, but on its own proved nothing. It was for "room service" at St. Petersburg's Grand Hotel Europe, which is an extensive krysha for a huge contingent of hookers. The tryst probably went down, but it was a hooker's words against Strobe Talbott's so I never pursued this dog shit story.

But Hard Copy's editors -- foaming at the mouth for any evidence of further sexual prurience in the White House -- pounced on it. They had her on a plane within hours, to come ransack my Petersburg apartment for the two-year old receipt and crib some of my sources on the sex trade story. I went out and stocked up on rubbers.

She came to St. Petersburg. The sex was not a disappointment, but everything else was. She was clearly fixated on three things: finding that receipt, finding a husband, and making a "career shift" to Moscow churning out the usual cliches. She did the inevitable stories on sex slaves, the mafia, and Russian decadence, but her original drafts were so poorly written that it took months to get an acceptance even from a sleazy magazine like Maxim.

She decided to move to Moscow, and I was willing to go with her. Then came the first real disaster: our search for an apartment. We looked at several apartments that I really loved -- and since she didn't have a job at the time, I was the one who'd be paying the rent. One in particular was wonderful -- several rooms outfitted with big Stalin-era furniture and Soviet kitsch. But it was too "Russian" for her, she said. I was confused: Why the hell did she want to move here if she refused to live in a Russian apartment? And shouldn't she, as a novice reporter, try to experience what living in Russia was like? This was not an important concept for her. She was obsessed with finding one all-important feature: a toilet that looked just like the ones in the US.

She picked a tiny, one-room place in one of the ugliest, cat-piss permeated buildings in central Moscow. The view out of our one caged-over window was of a dumpster that hadn't been emptied since about 1980. It was halfway through evroremont that never got finished. I'd told her the landlord looked like a crook, but she wasn't listening. She loved the place. Reason: the bathroom -- which still didn't even have a door on it -- had an imported American toilet.

She sublet the Upper West Side apartment her parents had bought for her and packed literally everything she owned, excluding her Ikea furniture, into ten suitcases. Naturally, the extra baggage charges were in the thousands of dollars. Her daddy's credit card paid that, and I coughed up the bribe the Customs agents demanded to let her drag this warehouse full of shit into Russia.

That was when I ended four years of sobriety and began to drink, take copious quantities of Xanax and do heroin. It was the only way I could stand to be in the room with her. Cohen portrays her discovery of my drinking and drug use as an utter shock, a betrayal. But her own reliance on pills was far heavier than mine. Her father, a psychiatrist, procured for her something like an eight month supply of Xanax, Valium, Clonipin, Halcion, and other downers, plus Prozac. I was aware of her Prozac use, but the rest of the booty was stashed in secret places around the house.

She is therefore a total hypocrite to drag my own Xanax use into the light while she was zombified on medication dealt to her by her own father. I am also pissed, in retrospect, that she had an enormous stash while I was having to bribe a local pharmacist to obtain the same drugs. We were lovers for chrissakes, and in my experience, lovers share their stashes. At least I did. Hers was, in recovery speak, the drug hoarding behavior characteristic of an addict. I was open about my use and offered her my shit when she seemed to need it. So who, I ask, was the junkie?

The reasons behind my own drug use, besides simply trying to numb myself to her right-wing journalistic obsessions, were unclear to me at the time. But after I tried to commit suicide and returned to the States for treatment, I learned that I am manic depressive. Typically, manic depression manifests itself at about 27 -- the age I was when Cohen and I were together -- and the sufferer seeks the most obvious means to dull the extraordinarily unpleasant symptoms. This leads to drug or alcohol addiction.

Cohen chose not to mention in her book that I underwent three months of in-patient therapy and shock treatment in a Massachusetts psych ward while she remained in Moscow trying to get her prudish take on The Hungry Duck published with Maxim. Since it was the stress of trying to live with that obsessive, provincial bitch that brought on the crisis, it seems to me that my $40,000 in medical bills (plus the rent I paid, and continued to pay after leaving her in Moscow) outweigh the lousy $700 she says I owe her for the ticket to Boston that she ordered on daddy's credit card. She hounded me for that $700, even after I tried to commit suicide to get rid of her. She actually hunted me down in the hospital, where I was drooling on Haldol, demanding her money. And contrary to what she writes, I did pay her back.

In any case, I have not had a drink or recreational drug in seven years. Simply getting away from Jennifer Beth Cohen was probably the biggest step in getting clean. I hope she took some stock of that when, in the book's final lines, she looks in the mirror and "discovers" that she is still the "same person" despite all the ordeals she suffered at my hands.

Cohen claims we planned to be married. It is true that she proposed to me on a plane from St. Petersburg to Moscow about three days after she arrived and I accepted, partly out of surprise and partly -- in the interest of full disclosure -- because I cared for her, before a closer acquaintance with her personality, her family, and absolutely unscrupulous career climbing brand of tabloid journalism, made suicide seem preferable to staying with her.

But even then, I was hedging my bets. The whole "engagement" was like a shared fantasy, not a real plan. I got her a ring that had come off the cold, dead finger of a gangster's moll killed in a shootout. The cop sold it to me for $50. Cohen's money-grubbing mother was tacky enough to drag me and the ring for it to be appraised. She was not satisfied with the $400 value it was assigned -- -more than I could have afforded anyway. They're quite a family.

Cohen claims she cared deeply for me, but you'll notice that even by her own account, she removed herself from the picture as quickly as possible when things got messy.

Then she moaned about how much she'd "given up" to be with me. What had she really given up? Here is a brief catalogue: Starbucks coffee; a job with arguably the worst tabloid TV show in America; daily contact with her neo-con fascist friends; more than daily contact with her controlling and manipulative drug-pushing family; temporary residence in her palatial apartment; her AOL account and boring flirtations with limp-dick corporate ladder climbers.

For the most part, she gets the basic facts of our life together in Moscow right -- except for her claim that I blew off my work. On the contrary; I was so desperate to get away from her that I threw myself into my job. Her other big lie is that she came to Moscow just to be with me. It was that receipt linking Clinton's boy Talbott to a Petersburg whore that got her fascist boss to finance her trip, and it was the hope of using that story to join the neo-con Monica Lewinsky witch hunt that kept her there. She always described herself as a "liberal," but she had no shame about joining the Kenneth Starr crusade.

As you can imagine, it was kind of a shock for me to read mainstream reviewers calling Cohen's book "brave" or "daring." I think I can see how those reviews got printed. First, I can say with relative certainty that the New York Times review ("riveting") was a plant orchestrated by her or her parents, all of whom have several friends among the old gray lady's editorial staff.

Secondly, the impressive blurb by Carol Gilligan is most definitely a plant. Gilligan was, when I knew Cohen, a frequent guest in the Cohen's home, and a name her parents dropped shamelessly to impress guests with the fame and intellect of their circle.

I can't honestly say I wish her well -- which, until her book, I did -- but I don't really need to bother hating her. She's fashioned her own punishment by consigning herself to a life of self-pitying lies, corporate cock sucking, and the ludicrous and empty myths of the American dream. May she enjoy her delusions till death do them part.

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