22 Greenwich Ave, New York, NY 10011
The Village Voice was founded in 1955 by Ed Fancher, Dan Wolf, John Wilcock, and Norman Mailer, and its offices were located at 22 Greenwich Avenue until moving to Sheridan Square in 1960—where it stayed throughout that decade.
In addition to DIY mimeo printing, the downtown’s social networks thrived with the help of community and underground papers like the Village Voice and the East Village Other. Michael Smith joined the Voice in the early 1960s as a theater critic, when the paper was still struggling on a week-to-week basis to keep the lights on. It was more volunteer work than anything else, but Smith’s passion for promoting underground theater kept him going. In New York, negative reviews had serious consequences for a show’s bottom line, so producers and theaters tended to gravitate toward critic-and crowd-pleasers. For example, Sam Shepard’s budding career as a playwright was nearly over before it began after mainstream papers panned his debut production. “I was ready to pack it in and go back to California,” he said. “Then Michael Smith from the Village Voice came up with this rave review, and people started coming to see it.” Jonas Mekas also exerted a major influence on underground film through both his Village Voice film column and Film Culture, the magazine he published with his brother Adolfas Mekas. Future filmmaker John Waters devoured Jonas Mekas’s writings from afar. “When I was in high school,” Waters said, “I would read Jonas Mekas’s ‘Movie Journal’ column every week in the Village Voice. That was a huge, huge influence to me. Mekas’s Film Culture magazine was my bible. He was my life saver. That’s how I knew about everything when I was living in Baltimore.”
From Chapter 5 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore