Even if you’re new around these parts, chances are you’ve heard of Leslie Cochran, Austin’s favorite cross-dressing, homeless mayoral candidate. Leslie passed away in 2012, but he still lives on in our hearts. And if local film production company Freckled Fanny has its way, Leslie will soon be memorialized on our screens, too.
“‘LESLIE’ is an independent documentary that tells the untold story of Albert Leslie Cochran — a hell-raising, thong-clad, homeless man whose bizarre approach to activism catapulted him into becoming an unlikely civic symbol in Austin,” co-directors Tracy Frazier and Ruby C. Martin explain on their Kickstarter campaign page. “Told with heartbreaking humor, the film is an intimate portrait of a rebellious drifter turned nationally-known icon, who reinvented himself to find love and redemption.”
With cinematography by Lee Daniel (Boyhood, Dazed and Confused) and music by the legendary Patty Griffin, the film’s projected release date is December 2015. But that all depends on you.
Frazier and Martin recently teamed up with the Austin Film Society to host a kick-off party to officially launch their Kickstarter campaign. By December 21, they hope to raise $36,400 to cover post-production costs. Sadly, Leslie passed away in March 2012, but Freckled Fanny had been accumulating footage of the “Queen of Austin” since 2005, so all that’s left is a 6-month editing stint.
Leslie was Florida-born in 1951 and, after leaving home at 16, floated around the U.S. working a wide assortment of jobs — truck driver, navy man, Safeway employee, disc jockey, roadkill skinner and hide tanner. He lived in Florida, Colorado, Washington, Louisiana, and Georgia, to name a few places, and he even attended Florida State University on an academic scholarship at one point. Then in 1996, Leslie rolled into Austin on a tricycle and very quickly became a local icon– the perfect embodiment of “Keep Austin Weird.”
“After Leslie’s death, in the midst of production, we took time out to process… and hone in on what his story would mean to our audience, to the citizens of Austin who loved him, and the overall message we want to impart to the world,” said Frazier and Martin. “The film is not an exposè. Our intention is to offer insight into Leslie’s life, creating a space to observe, as well as a portal for introspection into our own lives, and to find a renewed compassion for others.”
If you’re feeling moved but didn’t make it out to the fundraising shindig, you can donate online via Kickstarter, share the project on social media (@lesliedocfilm), or even shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to find out other ways to get involved. However you choose to support the “LESLIE” documentary, just remember that the fundraising campaign ends the morning of December 21, so you’d better step to it!
In Leslie’s own words, “It’s not how you dress. It’s what’s in your heart.”
For more information about the Leslie documentary, head over to the film’s Kickstarter page, Facebook page, or official website. Featured photo: Leslie grins after being woken up from a nap at ACL 2008. Flickr user Jason McELweenie, CC licensed.