Leslie Cochran
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Austin icon Leslie Cochran dies at age 60

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, according to his friend and power of attorney Valerie Romness. 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 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.

Plans for services should be settled later this morning.

Click here for photos of Leslie throughout the years

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.

Friend Debbie 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 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.

"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.

-- Patrick Beach, Austin American-Statesman
Published in Austin American-Statesman on Mar. 9, 2012.
No events have been scheduled at this time. Check back later or contact the funeral home for more information.
Memories & Condolences
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461 entries
July 18, 2015
I remember doing security at the Little Field building, back in 1999 and Leslie was my nightly entertainment, when I had to check the garage. You made my nights go by really fast. I miss you Leslie
Kim Northern
June 25, 2015
Dear Leslie, my children and I had the pleasure of meeting you in front of Starbucks on 6th Street shortly after we moved to Austin in 1996. You made us laugh as you and the guitar wielding preacher heckled each other on the sidewalk. You graciously gave me an interview for a paper I was writing at the time about homelessness in Austin. You wanted to be cited as "Queen of the Universe" and you were. I got an A on the paper, and in the class, by the way :) You always had a kind or funny word whenever we saw each other downtown, and I am so glad to have known you before you went to the big rickshaw in the sky. You won't be forgotten, good buddy, I know you're rockin' that thong up there. <3
Susan Ballarini
May 8, 2015
Leslie when I want to remember my Austin you are a huge part of it. I always smiled when I saw you. My favorite was you coming into little Woodrow's on sixth with your big leopard top hat. When you died a huge part of Austin went with you. Thanks for making me smile a lot....God bless Texas God bless Austin God bless lesslie
May 7, 2015
I'll always cherish our little encounters at Katz's Deli upstairs having a cocktail together, (it wasn't too difficult to convince him to let me buy him a cocktail!) listening to great music and Leslie admiring my unique fashion choices of the evening! He tried to get me to give them to him, without success! I hope he is at peace and knows my heart broke a bit when I learned of his passing.
Debra "Raven" Kurland
April 6, 2015
Still in our heart Mr. Leslie
robyn g.
April 6, 2015
Were still remembering u.. we miss u
robyn g.
December 17, 2014
Enjoying a glass of wine at Eighteenth Over Austin and the gentleman sitting next to me told me about you! He appeared to be a successful businessman although I never got his name. This gentlemen was impervious with his comments about what you represented. I used an analogy of New York's "Naked Cowboy", only to be quickly interrupted being told that no comparison existed between the two icons. Not being from Austin, TX, I accessed the almighty internet and Bam there you were. I wanted to say I appreciated your true spirit and your courage to be different in this world.
RIP "Leslie".
April 25, 2014
You are missed Leslie.
Julia Moron
December 22, 2013
billy joe Carlton
May 28, 2012
I'm so sad to see him go my he RIP
chris guzman
May 25, 2012
I met him while I was on Spring Break in 2002. He was so nice and charismatic. Austin is losing one of it's greatest natives.
Ha Dao
May 15, 2012
I was so sad to hear about Leslie. I had seen him for years going to work and always waived. Austin has lost a great person and we will always remember him with a smile.
Barbara Holland
May 6, 2012
I'm waiting for the day that there is a statue of you in your thong next to me. That's the least the City of Austin can do for you for all the free advertising you have given the city.
Willie Nelson
May 5, 2012
I have called Austin my home since birth and love everything about Austin. I can't say I ever had the pleasure of meeting Leslie, but I know this city will never be the same without his presence. He was a true Austin icon and will be dearly missed. RIP Leslie
May 3, 2012
leslie i met you over 20 years ago.i found you funny , very smart,and you always made me smile,noone else dressed like you downtown thats for sure...REST IN PEACE MY FRIEND
May 2, 2012
You will be missed,RIP...
April 30, 2012
The magic was nearly gone, but when Leslie came to town he seemed to rekindle it in some ways. Goodby dear friend; goodbye Austin.
Roland Shield
April 24, 2012
My condolences to the family. May God give you the strength to endure this trial.
April 24, 2012
You knew you had become a legitimate Austinite when you could stand next to Leslie and think nothing odd was afoot. Great person - Great Austinite - Leslie will be missed
Larry Barnes
April 17, 2012
goodbye dear friend... you will be missed...
Jennifer Champlin- Boullion
April 15, 2012
I feel so lucky to have "encountered" Leslie while visiting Austin. He wore a stunning, green out fit that showed of those enviable legs. Austin won't seem so happy to me now when I'm there. I will always be looking for Leslie. You will be missed, dear soul.
Julie Fleiser
April 14, 2012
I remember you from Lamar Braker. The kids at Albertsons used to Buy extra sandwiches for you. You rarely passed up a chance to conversate or smile. Thanks for loving Austin! You were always kind to people even when they weren't kind to you. RIP Leslie.
Victoria McCracken
April 14, 2012
leslie, will never be forgotten
lisa price
April 11, 2012
Leslie Rocks it at ACL 2009
Leslie, to know you was to love you............and so many of us did. You brightened our good city with your wildly colorful self. Rest with the angels. We shall miss your stylish ways my man. Debra Scully
Debra Scully
April 7, 2012
billy joe jiron
April 5, 2012
I worked n a store on congress n saw him all the time...never talkd jus smilez....r.i.p
tamara dukes
April 3, 2012
You will definitely be an asset in heaven. I didnt know you personally but I saved all of the paper clippings about you. I thought you were cool. RIP
April 2, 2012
best of wishes from your friends kel and abel peace love and tacos
March 19, 2012
Lesile was true friend who I personally knew for many wonderful years.We would sit down and have a cup of coffee, sometimes even a cigarette, I would ask his opinion on several personal issues and he would always find time to tell me what he thought was the best answer, I really enjoy those times.Leslie I love you and thank you for being such wonderful person and great friend, I will certainly miss you and your awesome,may we meet again one day.You are loved and I will never forget you.Enjoy those wings because you certainly deserve them.Your friend always!!!
Jayzon Fowler
March 18, 2012
I found out about Leslie's passing while celebrating St Patrick's day in a bar last night here in DC. It really gave me pause. He made weird normal and made the world brighter for it.

Back in 2004 when my I was living in Georgetown, my 18 year old nephew told me how excited he was to have met Leslie the night before when he was out with his friends. To him and his friends Leslie was just Leslie.

Thanks for being who you were and RIP.
March 17, 2012
From 1981 to 2004 I lived in Central Texas. It was always Leslie that made sure all the girls on 6th Street got a cab, made it out safely, were walked back to their girls if needed. God Bless You Leslie, he lent us our Guardian Angel for awhile and now he has taken you back home. We will see you again some day.
Lori Reattoire
March 17, 2012
I've been in Austin from 1999 to 2012 and it has always been nice just knowing that Leslie is around. I might have only talked to him in passing, but Thank You Leslie for flying your flag and living out loud. God bless you and your loved ones.
York H
March 16, 2012
I was only passing through Austin when I had the good fortune to meet Leslie and enjoy a minute in the light of his smile. I hope he's happy and keeping heaven weird in his wonderful way !
March 16, 2012
I've lived in Austin since 1974, and Leslie & I are born in the same year, 1951. I've seen Leslie downtown, smiling, talking, to everyone and anyone who came his way. "Keep Austin weird," will always keep Leslie's memory alive. My prayers & thoughts are with his family, and close friends who knew him, and whose lives are sadden, without Leslie being here. I know that Leslie's @ pease now, no longer homeless, no longer feeling the physical and emotional pain of his life's journey. I life up Leslie's family to God asking that they be comfort, with God's peace and love.

Austin will always be "weird, and eunique to us Austinites, and visitors, and passer through.

From Barbara Beal "BB"

March 16, 2012
I've lived in Austin, TX since 1974, and the most outstanding "Keep Austin Weird" was seening Leslie downtown being his usual self.

My prayers & thoughts go out to Leslie's family his mother & sister, and all of the lives that he touched,during his life on this earth. I know that he's @ peace now, no longer homeless, now that he has a home in Heaven. "Keep Austin Weird," will never be the same without Leslie's presence.

My prayers are with all who knew loved him. "Rest in Peace Leslie,...& Austin will always be weird.
Barbara Beal
March 15, 2012
all of us who want to keep austin as weird as possible owe it to leslie to be true to ourselves while remaining unconcerned about what others think -- within reason, of course. or not.
Ellen Sweets
March 15, 2012
I was saddned to find out he had passed I was A nurse n Austin 1996-2003 I used to catch capital metro to n from work n everyday at 6th n congress there Leslie would be,,,He was actually very smart,nice, n could make me laugh on my worst days,,I MOVED BK TO MY HOME TOWN TEMPLE 2003,,BUT WILL NEVER FORGET HIM
Sheri vabstone
March 14, 2012
Goodbye! My dear Leslie! the day i found you unconscious along sixth street,and then seein you as the ems vechicle whisk you off to the hospital i knew it was the end!I know you are now in good care!
stephen cabrales
March 13, 2012
"Love is the immortal essence that allows us to be forever, for love is the arms of God. It is the thing that holds into eternity. It never dies~It never dies! It only becomes richer, deeper and freer. To be utterly god, you must utterly love and be loved in return," a Ramtha statement.
carol m
March 13, 2012
Leslie, you were -- as we all know -- one of a kind. You let us laugh and, through example, allowed us to be as weird as we wanted to be. When I first moved here, you were up on Braker Lane. I had a few conversations with you over the years; but you met so many people, I doubt you'd have remembered. You were always gracious, amusing and charming. A true star of Texas burned out when you passed. We will forever miss you.

Hopefully, an annual celebration in your honor will occur -- something like The Spirit of Leslie, crowning a new "queen" to reign for the coming year. Perhaps "she" would win a tiara, fish net hosiery and a pair of stillettos. Regardless, you were a rare person, indeed, who is irreplaceable!!

Always love and peace to you!
Laura Rheams
March 13, 2012
I was saddened to hear of your passing, you are what America needed, a loving and compassionate man, who didnt care what people that of you; I only meet you once and you changed my way of thinking. I will forever cherish our encounter. Missing You
Sandra Rosenbaum-Garza
March 13, 2012
I had just moved to Austin and was sitting at a traffic light when I saw this exquisitely shaped creature in a mini skirt and cleavage-displaying top wearing stilletos capped off with wavy blonde hair. I was jealous. Then Leslie turned around, I saw his beard and I had my first Leslie sighting. Leslie did make us all smile and was a true Austin icon. Thank you, Leslie!
Marilyn Heasley
March 13, 2012
Austin will never be the same. Thank you for the joy that you have brought so many. May your legacy of a passionate, free spirit be carried on through others. You will be greatly missed.
Marilyn Kelly
March 13, 2012
Thank you Leslie for making our hearts smile!
Rhonda Koch
March 12, 2012
lora s
March 12, 2012
lora d
March 12, 2012
Rest in Peace Leslie!!! Thanks for Keeping Austin Weird! You will be so missed by and entire city, plus more~XOXOXO
Angel Flanagan
March 11, 2012
We have lost a true Free Spirit. One who lived only to please others. Thank you so much for the joy and happiness you gave to so many. May this next great journey take you to a place where you can inspire and be inspired as well as share love. Rest in Peace.
Cheri Halford
March 11, 2012
Leslie and me at ACL 2008
Sarah Evans
March 11, 2012
Leslie, you gave so much to so many. To me you gave me many smiles, and always a lighter heart. You truly are a man who dances to a different drummer!
You are gonna look wild in those wings!!
Pamela Hausmann
March 11, 2012
Leslie, your free spirit and view of the world, without caring what anyone thought about you.. you just being you, has inspired me over the years.. It was such a pleasure to meet you and visit with you, and visit with you so many times over the years. May you be free and happy... May you be at peace.. Know that you live in the hearts and minds, souls of so many you have inspired.. Thank you to Leslie's family for sharing him with us.. May God bless you during this time... I'll miss you.. XOXO
Sarah Evans
March 11, 2012
Rest in peace..you will be missed!
Krista S
March 11, 2012
So sorry to hear of Leslie's passing. He added a lot to Austin.
Will Stovall
March 11, 2012
Leslie, thank you for all that you have given to us. You are truly one who will not be forgotten. Your spirit will always and forever be Austin.....
Sandra Heacock
March 11, 2012
One less Austin icon... Godspeed Leslie. You brought joy to many, Austin style. Onward Thru The Fog.
Ro Thompson
March 11, 2012
Leslie...I will never forget my first glimpse of your tanned butt and legs prancing down 6th street. I loved you from that point on. Rest in peace dear Leslie. Natalie
Natalie Thorp
March 11, 2012
My sympathies to all who were friends of Leslie. I remember commuting from south to north on the bus, talking with Leslie and another cross-dresser and we would be admiring each others shoes and accesories! I also enjoyed sharing my Kamel Reds with her. See you in the afterlife.
Cindi Chesher
March 11, 2012
Angels walk among us, sometimes on stilettos. You taught us about unconditional love and made Austin a bit of heaven on earth, and now you are making heaven a much better place.
Julie & Colleen
March 11, 2012
I will miss seeing you downtown, Leslie. You were truly unique and always brought a smile to my face with your quirky charm. Keep Heaven weird.
Helen Haake
March 11, 2012
RIP Leslie--I remember seeing you on the street amongst friends and fans and thinking, you are a brave and shining Star. Austin will not be the same without you. Go and illuminate the charm God gave you in the heavens!
John Lara
March 11, 2012
Last summer while in street ministry I met this man. I was looking for one of my ministry friends . He helped me with directions and I was able to pray with him. The prayer has been answered. God let peace come to this man . Rest in peace Leslie. brbruce from Caldwell.
Bruce Aspgren
March 10, 2012
Dearest Leslie...I left Austin in 2006 to pursue other "life" opportunities, but always thought that our paths would cross again very soon. When checking in with friends still residing in Austin, you often came up in conversation...I always loved hearing what you were "up to". Please know that you are truly loved and appreciated by so many...and we know that wherever you are, you're doing your part to "Keep It Weird"...take care, my "brother".
Julie Rabel
March 10, 2012
i will always envie your buns of steel.
love you leslie - your kind spirit lives!
kathleen capobianco
March 10, 2012
The first time I saw Leslie was in the late 1990s. He was walking down N. Lamar in a schoolgirl outfit, carrying a bike wheel, smoking a pipe. He made me smile and forget I was stressed. I always smiled when I saw him. Thanks for all the smiles, Leslie.
Cydnee White
March 10, 2012
Another bit of Austin's Heart has died. Rest in peace, you will be missed greatly. Sharon Spencer (Austin, Tx)
Sharon Spencer
March 10, 2012
You were the reason I knew Austin was the place for me! I will miss you and the many slices of pizza we shared together. Rest In Peace My Friend.
Lauren Reber
March 10, 2012
Goodbye, Leslie. You'll be missed.
H. W.
March 10, 2012
Thank you for the smiles, the laughs & the wonderful conversations. Austin just won't be as weird without you. RIP Leslie.
Lori Scarmardo
March 10, 2012
Leslie scared me to death the first time I met him - not because of who he was, but because I had no idea he was behind me. He just wanted to ask me to vote for him for Mayor! A part of what makes Austin "Austin" is gone and will be greatly missed!
Margot Cox
March 10, 2012
Leslie, no one could ever fill your shoes or wear them with the style you had. Thank you, so much!
Peter Thomas
March 10, 2012
Leslie, you were always my favorite part of visits to Austin..you will be truly missed..?
March 10, 2012
Leslie ... may heaven find you in peace and harmony. You gave Austin a lot of its character and pizzazz and reminded many of us that we can always laugh at life and occasionally just be ourselves, no matter what age. Thank you, darling!
Jill Edwards
March 10, 2012
We will miss seeing & talking to you. You will always be remembered..loved the pink tutu. Your Austin Friends
fred Ginger
March 10, 2012
We will miss seeing & talking to you. You will always be remembered..loved the pink tutu. Your Austin Friends
Fred and Ginger
March 10, 2012
March 10, 2012
Crystal Valdez
March 10, 2012
A true artist and authentic human. Austin is a much darker place without you. I wish I had the guts to say something to you all those times I saw you. My loss, Heaven's gain.
F Kwan
March 10, 2012
When I heard you wanted to leave I was so sad. Did CO deserve you? Perhaps if we stepped up our game you would change your mind and stay? No One will ever know But surely the man upstairs had a whole new audience for your arrival. It is our loss, for beyond the outter clothing was a man of amazing character. Austin will indeed miss you. RIP
March 10, 2012
Gone but certainly never forgotten
March 10, 2012
You made Austin who it is today Leslie. We will miss you, but never forget you!
March 10, 2012
R.I.P Leslie, you were a true Austin Icon!
George Leslie
March 10, 2012
R.I.P. Leslie, you will be missed. Thanks for the good times...
March 10, 2012
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft star-shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

Poet Mary Frye
Unincumbered no copyright
March 10, 2012
I always saw Leslie on my way to work when I traveled up 51st street and he always made me laugh. He was eccentric but then again we all are to some degree. RIP Leslie and God Bless. I'm sure you have your angel wings now.
Karen Long
March 10, 2012
A candle to light your way home. Prayers for you and to your family. Rest in Peace
B. & M. E.
March 10, 2012
I'm half a world away in SE Asia and yet word of Leslie's passing brought a tear to my eye. I only met him once but it will always be a fond memory. Austin will go on but without Leslie, it will be like the Mona Lisa with a little bit less of a smile. Thanks Leslie for making life a bit brighter for all of us.

David O (Chiang Mai, Thailand)
March 10, 2012
Leslie, you were an icon of Austin history and your memory will live on forever. I too have had the honor of being asked if I knew Leslie when I have said I lived in Austin, and although I only met Leslie a few times in brief passing, it still made an impression on me.
Miguel Perez
March 10, 2012
Leslie. I cherish our wonderfully random conversations and the beautiful and honest insight you always offered me, which I live by still today. You are not weird, just misunderstood! You will always be in my heart. God be with you and Bless You always.
Helen Peralta
March 9, 2012
I barely knew you, but Austin will never be the same without you. We already miss you, Leslie!
Henry Brown
March 9, 2012
Leslie a true Austin Icon! May you rest in peace... I know you're in Heaven wearing one of your 'outfits'! Shine down on us as we remember you always! We will miss your smiling face and your wave of grace... As a Austin Icon, you should have a life size statue on 6th Street aka to some of us, 'Leslie Street'....God Speed Leslie.....
Nancy Erickson
March 9, 2012
You always made my night running into you downtown! Austin Texas will miss you!
Michele Collins
March 9, 2012
Miss you, my friend. Instead of talking to myself all the time, i'll just talk to you.
Jen Gold
March 9, 2012
R.I.P.Leslie, i will miss you!!!!!!!! Lili Hart
Lili Hart
March 9, 2012
My heart is heavy with sadness because Austin has lost a true Icon...Leslie was Intelligent, friendly and funny weird. I had the honor of sitting with him/her at the Forum and consumed a few drinks, we talked politics and her life style choice. Goodbye Leslie...our loss is Gods gain of a beautiful soul...now you're an angel. May you Rest In Peace.
Art Sierra
March 9, 2012
Years ago I was in London. The Brits recognized my 'American' accent and asked where I was from. I proudly replied I was from Austin, Texas. The FIRST question asked was if I knew Leslie! That was around 1997.

Leslie was not 'from' Austin...Lesie IS Austin. I am so very happy and proud that you were (and will continue to be) OUR world Ambassador and the one, true sovereign Queen!
Russell Reid
March 9, 2012
Leslie, you always had a smile and a hello when downtown was my neighborhood. You will live on in our memories. Rest in peace.
Mine Gulenc
March 9, 2012
u will be missed Leslie u were a very energetic person and u brought life to austin tx
nicole g
March 9, 2012
Goodnite My Prince(ss) its a sweet dream now.. and I guess we are even. (I gave you all that lingerie I could never fit into again!! Austin will miss you.
Rachael O"Neil
March 9, 2012
Leslie, you will always be remembered...Rest in Peace, now!
Christina Parker
March 9, 2012
first saw you as I rode the Austin transit. I thought What the heck. You were to cool RIP my friend
Robert Moran
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