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Film Tells Story Of The 'Cross-Dressing Vagabond' Who Captured Austinites' Hearts

Photo courtesy of Andrew Shapter
"Becoming Leslie" tells the story of Austin legend Leslie Cochran.

From Texas Standard:

Leslie Cochran was a man who experienced homelessness and often walked the streets of Austin in a thong and a feather boa. He became an unofficial symbol of the “Keep Austin Weird” slogan before his death in 2012.

Tracy Frazier directs a new film about Cochran's life, Becoming Leslie, which is premiering at South by Southwest.

"It's a documentary, but it's more of – [it has] a narrative feel to it," Frazier says. "It's a portrait of a man who is searching for acceptance and a place to call home."

Frazier remembers one of her first encounters with Cochran.

"I was going to UT and getting on the No. 1 Lamar bus, and all of the sudden we – everyone in the bus gets up, and they go to the side, and there’s Leslie struttin’ down Guadalupe, you know, in his pumps and a little jean skirt or whatever, and we all just kind of looked at each other and just smiled, and it was very bonding," Frazier says. "He did that, like, all the time for a lot of people."

The film follows Cochran’s story long before he landed in Austin, before he was known as Leslie. But Frazier says it’s not an exposé.

"This doesn’t claim to know everything about him because we like to have him have that enigmatic status, I guess you’d say," Frazier says.

Frazier says she hopes the film inspires people to notice and reach out to other people in their community.

"It just kind of reminds them that life's bigger than themselves and, you know, pay attention," Frazier says.

Written by Laura Rice.

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
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