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THE GUIDE : NIGHT LIFE

A kitschy roadside attraction

November 14, 2008|Jessica Gelt | Gelt is a Times staff writer.

Have you ever fantasized about Burt Reynolds wearing an unzipped tracksuit top with no shirt on underneath? Does that fantasy include him leaning toward you with a look of simmering lust to say that he wants you to have his baby? If your answer is yes, then you can finally realize your dream in the ladies' room of a new truck-stop-themed bar in Silver Lake called Stinkers.

No, Reynolds doesn't hang out there. But a poster of him does, and it's emblazoned with the same words that make you tingly in your alternate universe. Next to the poster is a cornucopia of vintage bumper stickers with phrases like "You can judge a man by the size of his Peterbilt," and the humorous-despite-your-better-instincts, "Wish you were beer."

This purposefully tactless restroom represents a fraction of the brazenly kitschy delights populating every nook and cranny of Stinkers, including the 5,000 vintage pull-tab beer cans stacked over the bar; the genuine Trans Am hood on the wall; and the two dioramas featuring fake skunks in checked shirts getting drunk on Schlitz and playing poker.

The post-post-irony doesn't stop there, however, because the coup de grace of this zealous celebration of "Dukes of Hazzard"-style Americana is the presence of six mounted fake-skunk backsides that emit white steam when a bartender pulls the string of a giant big-rig air horn.

"That gas is kind of weird," said guest Gabe Sotomayor on a recent Tuesday night, during the bar's pre-opening party, with a tentative look that might best be described as a lingering stink eye.

Others had zero reservations about what they had seen. "I love the skunks and the dioramas," said Mona Bahgat. "They're reminiscent of the Country Bear Jamboree at Disneyland."

That, or of a newer, less odoriferous version of downtown L.A.'s camptastic Clifton's Cafeteria, if Clifton's were full of a new breed of winking rockabilly types and pretty bartenders with perfectly feathered hair who absolutely kill in country-western shirts tied above the bellybutton.

The Clifton's similarity is no accident. Stinkers was created by theme-bar baron Bobby Green and his 1933 Group, who also own Atwater Village's legendary Bigfoot Lodge as well as the Little Cave in Highland Park and Saints and Sinners in Culver City.

Green, who lived in Oklahoma until he was 11 and is a self-described natural at design, says that his father "was an artist and a connoisseur of road trips and roadside attractions," and as a result he grew up fascinated by American kitsch and camp. After a seven-year stint as the owner of the Cacao coffeehouse in West L.A., Green decided that if he was going to make money, he'd have to turn "coffee into alcohol."

That's when he hatched the Paul Bunyan-inspired theme for Bigfoot Lodge. Since then, with each new bar, Green has continued to "push the limits of ridiculous." His goal is simply to keep things fun and light. "I despise the myriad Buddha-head, martini-drinking, glossed-over bars in L.A.," he says.

That's not to say that you can't get a martini at Stinkers, it'll just have to be a Diesel Martini. You can also opt for a Truck Stop Quickie (SoCo and lime dropped into a half-pint of Stinkers Ale) or a Lot Lizard, the ingredients for which, like the provenance of the name, are best kept to oneself.

And of course, there is plenty of straight-up whiskey and ice-cold Schlitz and Olympia to go around. But buyer, beware: If you drink enough of that stuff, you just might end up in the bathroom confessing your love to Burt Reynolds.

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jessica.gelt@latimes.com

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Stinkers

Where: 2939 W. Sunset Blvd., L.A.

When: 5 p.m.-2 a.m. daily Price: No cover

Contact: (323) 661-6007

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