After being forced to leave her teaching job due to her former life as a sex worker, Melissa Petro has embraced the media's portrayal of her in a spread for Penthouse's February issue, the New York Post reports.
The former teacher now earns her living writing about her past life, but in a blog post for XOJane.com, Petro says she had a moment of panic about the photo shoot.
"When the shoot was over, amidst my signing of releases galore -- including a creepy moment when they made me take a picture holding up my ID -- I felt a momentary panic," she wrote in the blog post. "I thought, what have I just done? Is this something I'll regret?"
She decided, in the end, the shoot was empowering for her.
"Alex's [the photographer's] vision, as he explained it that day, was for the "Hooker Teacher" to reclaim her power -- to take the butt of the joke and turn it around. No one looking at the pictures resulting from that shoot could possibly think that I am being myself, or that I am trying to be sexy or that I'm not aware -- and thus, in some control -- of how my image is perceived. Like a drag queen, I played the part a bit too much, and so the act reveals itself as just that -- an act."
Petro taught at P.S. 70 in the Bronx from 2007-2011, but lost her job after writing about her previous work as a prostitute who used the adult services section of Craigslist in a blog post for The Huffington Post.
"My former employer didn't share my politics, however, especially after they me on the cover of The New York Post," Petro writes, and she was "reassigned" to administrative duty.
After receiving a call from the district superintendent, Petro was forced to resign from the department despite having tenure, or face a termination hearing, the New York Daily News reported.
Petro says that the scandal was the "biggest mistake" she's ever made but also "the best thing that ever happened to me."
"It forced me to become the writer I was meant to be," she writes.