By Duchess of Hackney

Hackney livin' n lovin'. Sarky frosty knickers always gobby, and perpetually pissed off for good reasons. Wind up merchant extraordinaire, but a nice old fashioned unusually unusual gal... Writing lots of wrongs.

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Austin’s doyenne of weirdness, Leslie Cochran dies

Leslie Cochran: Keeping the weird in Austin

“If I lived my life the way other people were thinking, the heart inside me would’ve died, I guess I was just too stubborn to be governed by enforced insanity.  Somebody had to reach for the rising star; I guess it was up to me.  And I want to thank Bob Dylan for that.”…….Leslie Cochran

 

I was sad to read this afternoon on twitter, that Leslie Cochran, Austin Texas most famous cross dresser, homeless person and even three time mayoral candidate passed away this morning at 1:00 am (CST).  Leslie was 60. He was one of a kind, something Austin will never see again and I’m glad even though he rejected a conventional life, he passed away peacefully with family members and friends around him.

I had thought of him recently, wondering if he was still in Austin, because he indicated wanting to leave last month for Colorado.

Leslie never quite got over a head  injury he sustained in 2009, when he claims he was attacked by a group in the early hours of the morning. That incident left him in a vegetative state, but he regained consciousness within two weeks. However his health had declined since then.  Then late last month he was found unconscious in a South Austin parking lot  and underwent brain surgery, which he regained consciousness from, but succumbed to this morning,

For those not familiar with my blog, I now live in Hackney, London where some people in sections of the borough such as Dalston, like to think they are weird. This has always made me laugh and I’ve been known to ridicule the numpties who think they are so original. The problem is they try too hard to pull it off. They even have a campaign to keep it weired, I have news; Dalston was never weird to begin with. Leslie never tried, what you saw was what you got and then some. He was what he was.

Leslie Cochran  was a constant fixture in Austin for 16 years, where he would often be seen around 6th street and Congress, although I’d spot him in South and Central Austin a few times.

My most abiding memory of Leslie, was running into him as I was leaving a meeting near Congress.  It was my third time meeting him and since I was in no hurry to get home, preferring to sit out the rush our traffic at the bar in the Driskell Hotel munching on crab cakes and a glass of wine. He called me Lady London and seeing we were right across from The Driskell, asked if he cared to join me. I mean he wasn’t in a thong and although he had a short tight dress on, figured it would be OK….he was an Austin icon after all.

He was up for it, but the moment we walked in, I realised he wouldn’t be welcome. Sure enough he was asked to leave. I remember laughing and telling him,  just  four decades before, it would have been I, a black woman, who would not have been allowed in.

It’s sad to realise that although there are tributes pouring in over the Internet and local press, Austins affection for Leslie Cochran had been waning, according to Patrick Beach in the Statesman earlier today.

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,

Abigail Ridgeway (L) from Cheshire, UK and friend with Leslie on a visit to Austin Photo credit:@abimonsta

Could it be Austinites and tourists had grown tired of Leslie’s “”weirdness” or was his behaviour pushing people away? Leslie was a complicated person, he was an alcoholic and according to some had been acting different  after his incident in 2009. But as always, for those famous or well known, death always makes people remember you and say nice things. Austin’s Mayor has declared today March 8th, Leslie Cochran day and a march in his memory along 6th Street, is taking place as I type this. A public memorial service will be held on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. at Auditorium Shores.

On hearing Leslie was leaving Austin last month, a blogger, Christina Pelosi fondly remembered:

 Although I have plenty to choose from, my favorite memory of Leslie is from about fifteen years ago when I worked at a law firm in One American Center in downtown Austin.  Leslie and rival street person, Bible Man, had an ongoing turf war over that corner of Sixth and Congress.  It wasn’t exactly a fair fight.  Hell had no fury like a vengeful Bible Man.

One time when I was getting a cup of coffee at Starbucks, Bible Man went all “Old Testament” on Leslie and threw an open, single-serving container of pudding at him, and a fist fight ensued.  A heroic barista by the name of Jerome jumped over the counter, blasted out the door and protected Leslie against the wrath of Bible Man.

Mornings like that leave a lasting impression.

Leslie,   Reqiescat in Pace

Please feel free to share your Leslie stories below.

 

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