Some people are natural leaders and bravely explore uncharted territory, fully prepared to take on any challenge in the pursuit of knowledge. Other people are lucky to get their pants on in the morning without serious injury, but dammit, they want to go exploring, too. Here are some explorers so flashily incompetent, it's a wonder they ever made it out their front door.
5The Pimp Who Crossed Alaska
Parisian Charles Bedaux led probably one of the most bizarre career trajectories in history. After dropping out of school at age 16, he became a pimp in Paris for a while until he picked up his comically oversized feather hat and made his way to America in search of greater aspirations. There he made his fortune as an efficiency consultant, after which he apparently got bored again and decided to explore a path for a proposed Alaskan-Canadian highway, a pursuit for which he had nothing remotely resembling credentials.
Well ... almost nothing.
In 1934, Bedaux fitted out his expedition exactly how you would imagine a former pimp would -- by gathering two limousines, five newly invented Citroen half-tracks, 130 horses loaded with essentials like caviar and champagne, a film crew, eminent scientific surveyors, his wife, a butler, a valet, a maid-in-waiting, and, of course, his mistress. Because you really want to spend months in the wilderness with your wife and your something-on-the-side both cramped in the same tight quarters.
Apparently, blazing a trail through the unexplored Alaskan wilderness was a little more difficult than the caviar-fueled cakewalk he'd imagined in his head. Things went to hell almost immediately on the "Champagne Safari" when the horses kept getting bogged down in the mud and the half-tracks continually malfunctioned. He soon dumped the surveying equipment (along with the "scientific" part of the scientific exploration) so there would be more room for caviar and formal ballroom attire. Rather than leave the half-tracks in the mud like any old boring explorer, he filmed his crew dumping a few over a cliff and attempting to blow one up, because that's how you abandon vehicles when you're a pimp.
The expedition was stopped by heavy snow about 15 days out from their destination, but that was close enough for Bedaux to call it a win and head home. There is some speculation that the whole exploration was actually part of a Nazi plan to build a highway to allow easy access through North America, a claim that is lent some weight by the fact that Bedaux tried to cozy up to both the Axis and the Allies during World War II, until he was imprisoned in the U.S. for espionage. It seems outlandish, but then so does a safari-going millionaire pimp, so who can say?