The day my life changed - 'I realised the whole school knew I worked as naked butler'

1st October 2010 at 01:00

I hadn't always wanted to be a teacher. After doing politics at university, I did a number of other jobs first - working in restaurants, as a consultant and at Transport for London. Then I started working as a naked butler in 2003 and did some stripping and porn films.

In 2007, I took a PGCE in citizenship and had a break from naked butlering and stripping for a number of years. I became head of PSHE and citizenship while I was still an NQT. It was quite daunting, but I loved it. I'm passionate about political activism, and although PSHE wasn't necessarily my background, I ended up enjoying it more than the citizenship.

But about a year and a half ago, I was finding the emotional side of teaching quite difficult. Because of who I am, a lot of students would come to speak to me about personal issues. Sometimes I would go home on the verge of tears, and I couldn't sleep. The school put me through counselling.

I think I realised then that teaching possibly wasn't right for me. I can't separate the job from my life, and I needed to reinvest in me. At that stage, I went back to being a butler.

It is enjoyable. It gets me out of the house and it is a big ego boost, as you often got compliments from the customers. It is a fairly innocent, if albeit slightly cheeky, bit of fun. I wasn't suffering the same kind of emotional stress as at school.

In the middle of last term, pupils starting approaching me and asking: "Is it true, sir? That you're on this website?" Initially I denied it, but it just got around, and I became aware that the whole school knew I was working as a naked butler.

It was never a problem in class, but at breaktime or at lunch pupils kept approaching me about it. If anything, rightly or wrongly, I gained a new-found respect from many pupils. That was one reason why I decided not to go in to school eventually. Some pupils, particularly the boys, started seeing me as a hero or as a role model.

A week or so after the pupils found out, I was driving into school and one of my close colleagues called, saying that all my classes were being covered that day and this was probably the start of them pushing me out. I called the headteacher, and said: "I don't want you to have to talk about something that you might find embarrassing and I don't want to bring the school into disrepute."

I stayed at home after that. I eventually got the letter at the end of term, saying they didn't want me to come back. It was a relief, really.

I don't think what I did was wrong. I'm not ashamed of it. It's almost like I've become a spokesperson for some kind of cause, which I guess I'm quite happy to do. My role as a citizenship teacher was all about taking on controversial issues and raising questions.

Teaching is a very rewarding job. To go into work and to stand in front of a class of developing, creative minds and hear what they have to say is a wonderful thing. But that's not to say that I, like many other human beings, am not multi-faceted.

I've always been a very creative person and someone who likes to perform. As well as stripping at the cabaret where I work, I also sing and go to the gym a lot.

I won't say that I won't do porn films again in the future. I'm not ashamed of it: it's sex. It's what a lot of teachers and parents up and down the country do. Just not in front of the camera. And I enjoy the performance, I'm not going to lie.

Benedict Garrett works under the pseudonym Johnny Anglais. He was talking to Meabh Ritchie. If you have an experience to share, email features@tes.co.uk.

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