Film Tells Story of The ‘Cross-Dressing Vagabond’ Who Captured Austinites’ Hearts

“Becoming Leslie” explores the history and life of Leslie Cochran. He lived his last years in Austin – a place he called home despite not having an address of his own.

By Laura RiceMarch 14, 2019 1:24 pm,

Leslie Cochran was a man who experienced homelessness and who 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.

Becoming Leslie” is a film about Cochran’s life. Tracy Frazier directed the film, which is premiering at the South by Southwest festival.

“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.