The Explorers Club in NYC has been around for over a hundred years, but chances are better that you've been on an actual exploration more recently than you've been inside their Upper East Side headquarters. So, the week of their 109th Annual Dinner (more on that below), they allowed us into their epically awesome former mansion and showed us everything from animals Teddy Roosevelt killed, to where Apollo astronauts booze, to the phallus of an animal that is much bigger than you. The phallus itself. Seriously, keep scrolling.
This is the members' lounge, and it's full of mittens worn on polar expeditions, a dinosaur skeleton dug up in the Gobi Desert, and giant tusks gifted by "gentleman explorers"
Here's their equivalent of a bulletin/ride board, but instead of people asking if someone wants to drive them to Boston for the weekend, they've got postings like, "Hey, I'm going to the North Pole, interested members contact me", and flyers for a giant $5 million blimp race around the world
You know explorers enjoy a good Scotch after a long day fending off killer seals or whatever, so here's the bar. It's BYOB, but members can get booze lockers to keep everything lubricated
It's decorated with a rotating array of artifacts they bring up from the ever-mysterious relic basement -- this one's a brown bear skull from Kodiak Island, so you know they had to dip deep into the collection
Gentlemen explorers love Shot Checkers
Here's the lobby. Apparently Thor Heyerdahl (great name!) stood around this very globe when he came up with the idea for the Kon-Tiki expedition, on which he went from South America to Polynesia on a balsa wood raft
Upstairs, public lectures and parties are held, and this dude guards the stairwell. Spoiler alert: when you get too close, he growls at you.
You can book the library for parties at which you're not allowed to talk (jk, you can totally talk in libraries when you pay money)
It's also home to this painting, "The Rescue of Adolphus Greely", the club's first president and an Arctic Sea explorer, who was stranded for months without adequate supplies before being rescued by a ship named The Bear. Most of his dudes weren't so lucky
Also open to the public during events is the lecture hall/ ballroom
An Explorers Club flag is taken on all their expeditions -- here's the hall of retired ones. Yeah, this is one that went to the moon. NBD
And this one belonged to Roy Chapman Andrews, believed by some to be the inspiration for Indiana Jones. He took it on an expedition to the Gobi Desert hunting for dinosaur bones, "where he fought off bandits, etc...". No word here on who inspired In Diana Jones
This does not apply to us
The stairwell itself is pretty awe-inspiring, but also happens to be lined with a series of paintings that served as the inspiration for the life-size dioramas in the American Museum of Natural History that terrify children to this very day
The president's office is in the Roosevelt Room, because in the building's original iteration as a mansion, it was where Teddy Roosevelt slept when he visited. Duh
We couldn't get a hold of the club's president, but here's his very charming wife showing off her favorite spear, which she found while exploring the relic basement. The one hanging above her was carved entirely from one piece of wood
She calls this her "pile of sticks"
On to the trophy room, where all the really cool sh*t is. Literally everything in here has a ridiculous story behind it
This lion was capped by Teddy Roosevelt, and it's laying on top of a bookcase that holds the first edition of Napoleon's account of his trip to Egypt
This cheetah used to be in the part of the club open to the public, but "one too many drinks were spilled on it". Now it lives in the trophy room, where apparently you're not allowed to bring Zima
They're not really sure where this mammoth tusk came from, but they do know this: in the '30s, a group of explorers unearthed a mammoth in Russia and brought back some of its meat, which was subsequently eaten at their annual dinner -- now they try to top that every year. Keep scrolling for a look at some of the dishes, which may or may not rhyme with "poat genis"
Bow down in awe or look away in disgust, but this is a sperm whale's penis, and it gives new definition to "just the tip"
These are the real ivories from a quad-tusked elephant -- artist's rendition of its capture below
Legolas was totally a member
Here's a portrait of Danish explorer Peter Freuchen, who got frostbite on his toes and smashed them all with a hammer himself. When you smash all your toes off with a hammer, you can have a portrait in someone's trophy room
The hall of medalists, honorees, and presidents. James Cameron will be going up this year
This should probably be on the roof
This way to the awesomely named "Sky Wave Room", which didn't actually send out coded instructions for the imminent robot revolution, but was instead a radio control room used to communicate with people summiting Everest. It's out of commission now since everyone's got satellite phones, "which totally takes the romance out of it"
In The Archives: an Explorers Club flag that was taken on the first moon landing and signed by Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, plus an album of prints from an 1875 British Arctic Expedition. The only other people who scored a set were "Queen Victoria, the King of Denmark, etc...
Still not there yet. There's a door to the roof (though, ed note: they will absolutely not let you climb this ladder)
Here's the antenna for the Sky Wave radio
And it is in fact climbable. You have now summited the Explorers Club
The only thing left to do is wonder what's in this box we caught them carting in and get ready for the actual Explorers Club dinner, which you should definitely try to get yourself invited to
If you attend the dinner, you get to talk to amazing dudes like the one on the left, who played baseball at the North Pole, just because he could
The guy with the sweet hat is Chhiring Dorje Sherpa, who saved a stranded climber -- who wasn't even in his expedition -- on K2 in absolute certain-death conditions. He took home the coveted Tenzing Norgay Quadrennial Award
These men cooked up some lovely food for Chhiring and the other attendees
Including this ostrich. The marbled fat really lends some tenderness to the cuts. Seriously, it was delicious.
The muskrat was a little more, well, muskratier
Elderly women were making beaver jokes left and right
Featured in the even more effed-up version of Wonka: candied scorpions.
A lovely martini garnish of sweet pickled chili eyeballs.
Alright, let's really get down to business. Coming up: the three states of ladylike consumption of a goat penis that was once perched on your drink
Checking to see if anyone was watching
For those who couldn't handle it straight-up, there was also goat penis worked into a lovely rice dish. Coming up: the four stages of eating a goat's penis, when you also possess a human one of your own.
Please take my goat penis
This dude is from Seattle. Seriously
Back in 1907, Ernest Shackleton brought 25 cases of this whiskey to Antarctica, because he knew how to party. Then everything went to sh*t, and they had to bury them to come back for, if they wanted to live. 103yrs later, someone dug them up, Jurassic Parked-out the whiskey, and recreated the exact product, from recipe to bottle
Space: the final frontier of fashion.
This was the theme of the dinner: Sacred Places
Here's Jim Cameron (it's cool, everyone here calls him Jim) with an Explorers flag after diving deeper than any man before, in that green sub.
Here he is just talking to nice reporters.
We're definitely coming back next year.