He Kept Austin Weird!
“Dad! Dad! Do you see that man over there? He’s wearing a bikini on the corner!” I said in a confused yet excited tone of voice. My dad looks out the window and bust into hysterics. He could not understand what he was looking at. On the driver’s side window my father sees a 40 something year old man, in a neon pink bikini, holding up a sign that reads, “Honk if you think I’m sexy.”
Every day that week on Burnett Road I saw that man. I told EVERYONE in my class about him, and that’s when I learned it was Leslie.
Leslie is the poster boy for “Keep Austin Weird.” But when you honestly think about it… was Leslie weird or were other people jealous of his free spirited lifestyle?
Leslie came to Austin from Colorado about 25 years old and the city embraced him… even while rocking a hot pink leopard print thong set with pink fury mules. Everyone would see Leslie everywhere. He was famous. The public and celebrities knew who he was, and everyone would take pictures of him. His reputation proceeded him.
If he needed a ride people would give it to him. I mean, it was just Leslie.
Leslie wasn’t just your friendly, homeless, crossdressing Austinite. He also ran for Mayor of Austin three times, and was an advocate for getting people to recognize the police violence against homeless people.
There has been paraphernalia made with Leslie’s pictures, and he was even in a Superbowl commercial. This was NOT your run of the mill homeless person.
Leslie passed away this morning at 1AM at Christopher House in Austin. He had recently undergone brain surgery. It is no secret that Leslie has had issues with his health stemming from an accident in Colorado about 25 years ago. Since then he has been known to have seizures. In October of 2009 Leslie got into an altercation that lead him into a coma, but two weeks later he was fine. On February 27, 2012 Leslie was admitted to the hospital in critical condition. No one knows what lead up to this, but brain surgery was completed. On the 4th of March Leslie regained full consciousness but was still moved to hospice since there was no improvement in his brain activity. This is where Leslie passed away this morning, March 08, 2012.
This honestly breaks my heart because Leslie made no excuses for who he was. He had no qualms about this, and lived his life the way he wanted too.
To Austinites, seeing Leslie wasn’t weird, it was normal. He represented what Austin was. He was accepted and loved. Seeing Leslie was like running into your crazy uncle. Yeah, everyone knows he doesn’t follow the status quo, but everyone still loves him.
Leslie wasn’t afraid to live.
SxSW this year is going to be less fun since Leslie won’t be around to hug and take pictures of the visitors coming from out of town.
The streets of Austin will be a little less weird without him.
Tonight there will be a parade from City Hall to 6th Street at 7:30 PM to celebrate the life of Albert Leslie Cochran. Everyone who comes is expected to wear boas and tiaras.
On Sunday at 2 p.m. near the Fannie Davis Gazebo on the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail north of the South First Street and Riverside Drive intersection a memorial will be held in Leslie’s honor.
Leslie’s actual funeral will be private for only family and very close friends. That church will be PACKED!
There are rumors floating about claiming that Mayor Lee Leffingwell will proclaim March 08th Leslie Day.
ONLY in Austin would they name a day after a fun loving homeless crossdress.
God, sometimes I just miss home.
Godspeed Leslie. Godspeed.
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