No one kept Austin weird better than Leslie Cochran. Quickly establishing himself as a local fixture when he arrived here homeless in 1996, Leslie spent 16 years in Austin living his life according to his own set of rules—although he often relied on the kindness of friends and strangers in order to make it through each passing day. A staple of Sixth Street and Congress Avenue, Leslie could be counted on to brightened up our lives with his choice in women’s clothing and thongs and his equally colorful behavior. Prompted by his numerous arrests, Leslie ran three times for mayor in a bid to raise awareness and to help of Austin’s homeless community. Directed by the Austin-based Tracy Frazier, the documentary Becoming Leslie dissects Leslie’s relationship with Austin and offers a deep dive into Leslie’s life before he moved to Texas, examining his troubling upbringing in Florida, the 1970s accident in Colorado that left him with brain trauma, and the years he spent in Seattle in advance of him packing his bags and living life as a free spirit. Tracy Frazier began work on the documentary in earnest in 2011—a year before Leslie’s 2012 death—when she partnered with Ruby Martin, who befriended Leslie in 2005 after she cut his hair at Wet Salon and began shooting footage of Leslie. The documentary also includes interviews with Leslie’s friends and family members. Becoming Leslie will screen during this year’s SXSW Film Festival at 5:30 p.m. March 8 at the Rollins Theatre at the Long Center, 6:30 p.m. March 9 at the AFS Cinema, and 7:15 p.m. March 13 at the Alamo Ritz. Becoming Leslie represents the directorial debut of Tracy Frazier.
Aired: March 7, 2019