The Videofreex needed studio space to work on their DIY television show, so the network rented the Videofreex a loft at 96 Prince Street, the same building where the Paula Cooper Gallery opened in late 1968. “This was right when SoHo was beginning to happen,” Nancy Cain said. “There were some art galleries popping up here and there, but mostly it was still little factories making clothes or baking bread.” Unlike the Lower East Side, which was packed with people, only a few artists and other residents occupied SoHo’s empty industrial buildings, along with a smattering of small factories that were still operating. There were few stores around the Videofreex’s new loft—just a Puerto Rican bodega and some other small businesses. The biggest draw was Fanelli’s, right beneath the Videofreex’s loft, an old-fashioned bar that served inexpensive bean soup for lunch. “I loved that part of downtown,” Skip Blumberg said. “Everybody who lived in the neighborhood knew each other because of its small scale.” Blumberg moved into the Prince Street loft when their ragtag television studio was still being built; he put his mattress on a tall pile of sheetrock and every day it got a little lower as the construction continued. The control room was at one end of the loft—a large, open space where they hosted video shows every Friday night. The three-camera setup was much like any other television studio, but much looser and more informal (the audience sat on cushions placed on the floor and sometimes smoked pot).
From Chapter 22 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore