The Videofreex came together in the late 1960s when Mary Curtis Ratcliff met David Cort, who was one of the first to get his hands on an early Sony Portapak camera. Ratcliff had been raised in an upper-middle-class midwestern family and attended the Rhode Island School of Design, then worked as a teacher. She and Cort moved into a Lower East Side loft previously used as an old stocking factory, which was about one hundred by three hundred feet, with floor-to-ceiling windows, a typical postindustrial loft. “Today it might cost $3,000 a month, just for rent,” Ratcliff said, “but I bought it back then for a total of $3,000.” In August 1969, Cort hauled his Portapak upstate to the Woodstock Festival, where he met another early videographer named Parry Teasdale, and they joined forces. Together, they focused on shooting the crowd instead of what was happening onstage, creating a unique document of the everyday happenings at that festival. Cort told Ratcliff, upon his return downtown, “I met this really neat guy named Parry. And, oh, by the way, Parry’s going to come and live with us.” Oh, really?! she thought. “So anyway,” Ratcliff recalled, “Parry turned out to be this wonderful young man and he hung around us for a while.” The three began collaborating on video projects and gathered other like-minded artists into their collective until the Videofreex got a loft of their own in SoHo.
From Chapter 22 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore