Few people kept Austin weird quite like Leslie Cochran.
Famous for strutting Downtown Austin in a pair of heels — or a tutu, tiara, or feather boa — Leslie was a chronically unhoused man who lived in Austin from 1996-2012.
The subject of a 2019 movie, a commemorative plaque on 6th Street, a mural, and national intrigue, Leslie was nothing short of eye-catching. In celebration of Pride month, we wanted to tell you a few things about the “Queen of Austin.”
The “mayor of Austin”
Born in Miami in 1951, Leslie lived a nomadic life around the country, taking jobs in Seattle, Shreveport, and Atlanta. It’s said that Leslie made his way to Austin via a year-long tricycle ride in 1996 and quickly became a local celebrity.
Residents during that time likely remember his runs
for mayor. Leslie first ran against current mayor Kirk Watson in 2000, then again in 2003 on the platforms of protecting the homeless population and planting more trees. He lost both times, but managed to garner 7.75% of the vote in 2000 and the unofficial title of “mayor of Austin” among his fans.
A prominent fashion icon in the city, it’s possible you own Leslie’s special edition paper doll, which was sold in 23 states and became one of his most stable streams of income.
A celebrity at heart,Leslie made appearances in “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and a 2001 Super Bowl commercial for Pinky’s Pagers. He was also well-known for his “saucy” comments to passersby.
You can learn more about his life in “Becoming Leslie,” a 2019 SXSW documentary.