Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Right Place, Right Time: The Decades-Long Love Affair between '80S Supermodel Caroline Cossey (A.K.A. Tula) and David Finch Began with Bad Directions

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Right Place, Right Time: The Decades-Long Love Affair between '80S Supermodel Caroline Cossey (A.K.A. Tula) and David Finch Began with Bad Directions

Article excerpt

On August 29, 1991, Caroline Cossey, the iconic '80s supermodel also known as Tula, who once illuminated the cover of Playboy Worldwide with her lithe bronzed body and sensual good looks, sat alone at a restaurant--the wrong restaurant--in London's Brent Cross Shopping Centre, waiting to commence a business lunch with her attorney.

At a bus stop nearby--the wrong bus stop--David Finch, a 27-year-old Canadian with sweet hazel eyes and a delicately chiseled face, stood outside the mall, weighing whether he should grab a bite or continue his journey. "I was passing through London to Coventry to visit my grandmother," Finch recalls. "The man who gave me directions had a strong Cockney accent that I couldn't understand, which is how I ended up in the wrong place." Or, as fate would have it, the right place, at exactly the right time.

The engineering student, who'd recently backpacked through Europe, decided to get some food. As soon as he walked into the eatery, he caught sight of "an absolute vision," he says. "I was instantly struck by her beauty. Everything else just faded away."

The two smiled at each other and exchanged a few words that ended in Finch asking if he could see her again. "She handed me her business card," Finch remembers. "That's when she told me she'd written a book and that I may not want to call her after I read it. What could it be?' I thought."

When Finch finally arrived in Coventry, he tracked down Cossey's memoir, My Story. As soon as he scanned the jacket copy, he learned that Caroline Cossey, the Amazonian beauty and former Bond girl who captured his heart at first sight, had been born Barry Kenneth Cossey.

Growing up in Norfolk, England, in the 1960s, Cossey identified with females and femininity, in tortured conflict with her family's and society's insistence that she must acclimate to her assigned sex. "I was teased. They called me 'sissy Cossey' and 'pansy,' " she once said. She felt alienated, alone, and confused. At 16, in 1970, she decided to ditch her quiet, quaint town for the bustling streets of London to find herself.

While doing a series of odd jobs in the city, she met a trans woman for the first time and realized her path to self-actualization. Four years later, she completed her gender confirmation surgeries and launched a successful modeling career. Her gorgeous face and enviable figure appeared on glam glossies and in advertisements in Europe and the United States.

Then, in 1981, News of the World, the infamous British tabloid, obtained Cossey's medical records and published a story revealing that Cossey was transgender. …

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