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RIP Leslie

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout' started by Dubious, Mar 8, 2012.

  1. Dubious

    Dubious Contributing Member

    Jun 18, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Austin icon Leslie Cochran dies at age 60



    By Patrick Beach | Thursday, March 8, 2012, 02:02 PM

    An Austin icon is dead, and Austin just got a lot less weird.
    Leslie Cochran — the city’s flesh-flashing, cross-dressing, attention-loving, frequently homeless mascot, unofficial ambassador and sometimes mayoral candidate — died at 1 a.m. at Christopher House, an inpatient hospice, his sister Alice Masterson said. He was 60.

    Cochran had been admitted to St. David’s South Austin Medical Center last month after being found unconscious in a South Austin parking lot. The cause of death was believed to be complications from a brain injury, according to his friend and power of attorney Valerie Romness.
    Cochran died “peacefully and comfortably” in the company of family and friends, Romness said.

    Usually dressed in ankle-snapping ladies’ heels and a thong, Cochran was a fixture in Austin, particularly downtown, the Sixth St. entertainment district and South Austin. He became known around the world as a key example of the city’s populace embracing and celebrating its freaks. Albert Leslie Cochran eventually ascended to the highest rank of celebrity, joining the few known by one name only.

    Mayor Lee Leffingwell was expected to proclaim Thursday and every March 8 forward Leslie Day in Austin. Friends and fans planned to gather at City Hall at 6 p.m. and parade to Sixth Street beginning at 7:30. Romness encouraged attendees to wear boas and tiaras.

    Cochran’s colorful life will be celebrated in a service at 2 p.m. Sunday near the Fannie Davis Gazebo on the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail north of the South First Street and Riverside Drive intersection. Romness said attendees at both events will be encouraged to write messages to Cochran; at the Sunday service those messages will be released in biodegradable balloons.

    Proving that Austin is still plenty weird, there’s already talk of a statue in Cochran’s honor. No doubt he’ll look fabulous.

    Masterson said she and her family are planning a more traditional — and dignified — observance of her brother’s passing, in keeping with their Roman Catholic upbringing. A public visitation is planned for Friday night; Cochran’s funeral mass and burial will be private.
    Click here for photos of Leslie throughout the years | Sign the guest book
    Friends describe him as funny, intelligent and charming. They also describe him as an alcoholic, stubborn and unreliable. And since a 2009 head injury, he had been in decline.

    Frequently lacking the capacity to charm locals or visitors out of a buck or two anymore, friends say, Cochran was convinced Austin’s ardor for him had cooled and he had recently resolved to return to Colorado, where in earlier days he reportedly had tanned the hides of roadkill and worked as a disc jockey.

    Russell said Cochran was convinced he would be greeted as a returning hero, although a 2005 visit resulted in local officials demanding he be returned to Texas, according to friend Elizabeth Purcell, who paid for the man’s travel.
    Although Cochran relied on the kindness of strangers and friends, he was no freeloader. He did occasional odd jobs for local businesses and appeared in an ad for Pinky’s Pagers that aired locally during the 2001 Super Bowl. An artist paid him to model for her. And a local business lent him to pedal around town on a three-wheeler bicycle with advertising. Purcell, with whom Cochran lived off and on for years beginning in the early 2000s, said the man delighted in Dumpster diving for treasure. Then there was one rainy day she left him at her home while she went to work, “I’d given him this blue denim apron and I got home and he was standing on the porch like Ma Kettle with of course nothing on but the apron and his G-string, holding a broom up, so proud of himself because he’d cleaned my floors,” Purcell said.

    More recently, Purcell said, Cochran had become erratic, unstable and unwelcome, breaking into her house and sleeping on the couch.
    “Every time I saw him in my yard I started calling 911 in the hope they’d dry him out and give him some shelter.”
    But at the height of his popularity, the bearded, bedraggled, scantily clad Cochran bathed in public adoration and sometimes little else. His presence provided American-Statesman humor columnist John Kelso galvanic job security. It became customary for people who took his picture to slip him some cash in return for the favor, and Cochran at times would politely protest when the custom went thoughtlessly unobserved.
    About five years ago, local businesses started selling Leslie Cochran refrigerator magnets and the man himself got a piece of the action. One of those was Little Penguin, a party and costume shop Jen Gold ran on S. Lamar Blvd. He and Gold became friends, and when it came time to shutter the business, Cochran stood outside and did his best to turn a wake into a celebration.
    “He stood out on South Lamar in a Pocahontas costume,” Gold said. “People were honking at him and taking pictures. I really appreciated him trying to help me close the store. He has such a big heart, which I don’t think people realize. People see the thong but they don’t know the absolute wonderful person he really is.”

    Cochran was born and raised in Miami, one of six children. According to Romness, he was largely estranged from his family and didn’t like to talk about his rough upbringing. In Austin, he found a community that embraced him.

    Even portions of the establishment did so. When Cochran ran for mayor in 2000, incumbent Kirk Watson expressed concern about the match-up: “My fear is that this will not be an issue-oriented campaign but (about) who has the best legs, and then I know I’m a dead man,” Watson said. “He speaks to Austin’s weirdness, the acceptance that folks like to think they have for different cultures and lifestyles,” Romness said. “He was capable of not being homeless but it was sort of a choice in his mind. He wanted consciously to be different.”

    And so he was.

    In the end, friends say,the end of Cochran’s tale is a familiar one for the noteworthy or notorious: a famous figure whose end came at least in part for the very reasons they became renowned in the first place.
    Photo: Rebecca McEntee/ 2007 American-Statesman
  2. SwoLy-D

    SwoLy-D Contributing Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Not Sure If Serious. :eek:

    EDIT: Que En Paz Descanse el señor Leslie.
    #2 SwoLy-D, Mar 8, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2012
  3. KingCheetah

    KingCheetah Contributing Member

    Jun 3, 2002
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    Rest in peace.
  4. Dubious

    Dubious Contributing Member

    Jun 18, 2001
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  5. DallasThomas

    DallasThomas Contributing Member

    Jul 10, 2002
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    He sat down and drank with me and my buddies at Aussies when we were watching a Rockets game some years ago - Yao-Shaq 1, I believe. Random people from around the bar started coming to sit with us and buy rounds for everyone...eventually we had a table full of people cheering the Rockets.
  6. Jontro

    Jontro Member

    Feb 3, 2010
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    The Leslie effect will surely be missed.
  7. Deckard

    Deckard Blade Runner
    Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2002
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    Leslie passed away? That's terrible! He was a fixture of the Austin scene and will be missed. :-(-
  8. DaDakota

    DaDakota If you want to know, just ask!
    Supporting Member

    Mar 14, 1999
    Likes Received:
    WHEW !! Glad you posted Deckard, I was afraid that you might be Leslie.


    Gonna miss that guy, had a few conversations over beverages downtown over the years.

    Keep Austin WEIRD !!!

    1 person likes this.
  9. leroy

    leroy Contributing Member

    Jun 25, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Never spoke to him before. Definitely an icon of Austin that will be missed. So much of what Austin used to be is disappearing. Next thing you know, the bats will stop coming.
  10. MrRoboto

    MrRoboto Member

    Feb 16, 2009
    Likes Received:
    My most fragrant memory of Leslie is when he came over to a friend of mine's efficiency apartment and asked to use her restroom.

    He was in there for almost half an hour before coming out and saying, "whew, thanks! I had a whole cantaloupe for breakfast this morning!"

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