The town of Elsinore sleeps on the slimy shores of the eponymous lake in the heart of Southern California's ostentatiously named Inland Empire. Lake Elsinore's star turn in the motorcycle scene occurred when Harvey Mushman a.k.a. Steve McQueen raced his enduro bike down Main Street and into Elsinore's dusty hills in the Bruce Brown opus, "On Any Sunday."
Except for an explosion of titty-pink tract homes in the late '90s, not much has changed in Lake Elsinore since Harvey strutted down her dusty sidewalks in '72. Although the town's population has doubled since I moved there in 1996, fewer than 50,000 people call this geographically and culturally arid burg their home. Cast your eyes on the walls of The Hideaway, Lake Elsinore's most famous biker bar, and you'd swear at least two-thirds of the city's thirstiest and most desperate citizens have stapled their last dollar bill to its plywood walls.
In Lake Elsinore's prime as a whistle stop for dune-buggy racers and dirt-bike hooligans in the 1970's, there were over 20 bars on its unspoiled shores, and nearly as many AA clubs. Today there are fewer than three 12-step clubhouses, and just six bars. Among these, only The Hideaway still clings to its original charms. The jewels in The Hideaway's crown include a pool table, a juke box, a stripper pole and not one but two outhouses for your convenience. If the outhouses are full, barmaids encourage customers to piss on the chainlink fence in the parking lot.
Like every good watering hole, Hideaway regulars account for the lion's share of all the cash in her till. And while every one of these locals clearly drinks more than her fair share, none of that booty has ever been wasted on pavement, paint or interior decor.
Anything The Hideaway lacks in sanitation or hospitality it makes up for with local talent. This cross-dressing truck driver in the pee-stained mini skirt and the two women to his left are the prettiest things you'll see on The Hideaway's Myspace page, and they are stunning anomalies in the pantheon of poontang that calls this place home. I once witnessed what I assumed was a domestic squabble between a drunken husband and wife in the red glow of the Budweiser sign by The Hideaway's side door. Neither combatant was very attractive, but the man became even less so when his wife extinguished her cigarette on his forehead and stormed out the door. In a hail of "You bitch!" and "Fuck you!" the guy chased the fiery female into the parking lot. When I asked the barmaid if one of us should call the cops, she replied, "Those two? Don't bother--she does that to her brother every weekend." Drink up, Johnny--The Hideaway is that kind of bar.
The Hideaway is located at 32392 Mission Trail, Lake Elsinore, CA 92530-4576. Their phone number is (951) 245-4919, and the bar is open until 2:00 a.m. seven nights a week, unless the barmaid decides otherwise.