A Place to Find the Offbeat


Essential Media is not a mail-order company for the masses. The Venice-based operation specializes in alternative and underground culture, offering R. Crumb comics, Beat poetry and Betty Page videos at discounted prices.

Kevin Segall, 24, started the company two years ago, after graduating from Brown University with a degree in modern culture and media. (And you thought there was no such thing as a liberal arts education anymore.)

“I was sick of all the mainstream stores out there. I thought there should be someplace to go to get the best of underground film and literature,” he says.


Essential Media’s Discount Counterculture catalog features more than 1,000 items, including Fritz the Cat videos, hard-to-find CDs (Maya Angelou singing calypso!), small-press magazines and alternative fiction. Nonfiction titles cover a range of subjects, from underground and fringe beliefs to body art, drug culture to cocktail culture.

To order a $2 Essential Media Counterculture catalog, call (800) 490-5350 or (310) 574-1554. The catalog is available for free online at