I read an article last week of an Austin icon who may be memorialized with a statue, commissioned by Spencer Nutting of artist Bob Coffee, in downtown Austin.
Leslie Cochran, known for his cross-dressing, mayoral candidacy, homelessness and downtown roamings, died March 8, 2012 after living in a facility after a head injury he suffered in 2009. A fundraising effort is active for the statue which is currently planned on being installed on Sixth Street and Congress.
There is also the biopic (directed by Tracy Frazier) of the flamboyant, bearded and thong-wearing man “Becoming Leslie” that premiered last Friday at Austin’s SXSW.
Leslie took up “residence” at times in the parking garage at the old location of Texas Press Association office on 5th Street. My first sighting was of him in his thong, stiletto heels and feather boa walking near Oltorf Street many years ago.
Then, in the fall of 2008, my old college friends met for a reunion. Three of us, my old roomie Anne Lukin and another friend Jessica Vidal and I were waiting at a bus stop on Congress Ave. just south of the river, wondering if the Armadillo Shuttle was operating that day. We were on our way to watch the UT game at Scholz Garten.
Looking at the posted bus schedule and trying to figure it out, I see Leslie walking towards us.
He had on a mini-skirt, tube top and a zebra patterned vest and was wearing Roman sandals. He was definitely living up to the “Keep Austin Weird” phrase.
We greeted him and asked how he was doing. He replied “I’m doing well. I’m headed to get fingernail polish … I have a party to go to tonight.” He asked what we were up to and we told him we needed to get to Scholz’s. He not only told us which buses to take, he had to pay for our fares because none of us had the exact change!
Yes … a homeless person bought our bus fares. Of course we gave him $10 to repay him, so he came out ahead.
I snapped a photo of him with my flip phone and wished we had taken a photo with him (this was pre-selfie days).
The way I see it, Leslie Cochran was a kind, generous and gentle human. You can be sure a selfie will be taken with the bronze version of this peace-loving man when it is installed.
SUE BROWN is a columnist of the Pleasanton Express. Contact her at email@example.com.