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Leslie Cochran Kept Austin Weird / Nick Ehrhardt

Leslie Cochran Kept Austin Weird

 In this Dec. 14, 2006 file photo, local homeless, cross dressing personality Leslie Cochran poses with a new refrigerator magnet bearing his likeness in Austin, Texas. Valerie Romness says her friend, Cochran died shortly after midnight Thursday, March 8, 2012 of complications from a brain injury. Cochran was 60. (AP Photo/Jack Plunkett, File) Austin, Texas is missing an icon today. Leslie Cochran was one of the many people who give the city its eclectic flavor and help "Keep Austin Weird."

The Austin American Statesman's obituary describes the garb the homeless man would wear, making locals and visitors smile: 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.

Cochran relied on the kindness of strangers and friends but also worked for his living – modeling for a local artist, doing odd jobs, and pedaling around town on a three-wheeler bicycle with advertising. He also accepted the occasional bit of cash in exchange for the chance to photograph him as he went about his day.

When Cochran died on March 8, it seems all of Austin immediately knew the news, and immediately started mourning and remembering him. Hundreds of Austinites have signed his Guest Book, offering condolences and thanks for keeping Austin weird, along with photos they snapped of their favorite downtown denizen. A few of the messages:

It was always an honor to have seen you the many times that I did. You truly were a diamond in the ruff. We have definitely lost a true celebrity and great icon. Your memory will live on. Somehow Austin just doesn't feel weird enough without you here.

• Leslie, you were this small town girls first big city story to share with family. A bearded man in a hot pink bikini & heels on 6th St! You were a breath of fresh air & reason to smile. I'll never forget you & will make sure my children know that once upon a time there was this courageous icon with such style & flare!

• You will be greatly missed. Thanks for teaching me it's never a bad thing to be MYSELF and let people SEE who I am! Thanks for standing up for your beliefs and keeping Austin Weird.

• Rest in Peace Leslie. Keep Heaven Weird. We will miss you.

In the obituary, a friend summed up Cochran and his popularity in Austin: He speaks to Austin's weirdness, the acceptance that folks like to think they have for different cultures and lifestyles. He was capable of not being homeless but it was sort of a choice in his mind. He wanted consciously to be different.