Leslie Cochran is Austin's weirdest street person. A gray beard starkly contrasts his preferred attire of high heels and thong. Leslie tells The Examiner about the assault that almost killed him, a theft that directly affects his income and what he would do if he won the lottery. Leslie also has a message for anyone who wants to take his photograph.
February 28, 2010, early afternoon, outside Cafe Caffeine, Austin, TX
The assault that put Leslie in a coma:
Examiner: Leslie, do you have a few minutes for an interview with the Examiner?
Leslie: (with a wink) No, but I have a few minutes to be examined.
E: It’s great to see you out again. You were attacked last October. What happened?
L: There were 5 or 6 guys in an alley smoking crack. I was just passing by, as I do, you know? They started talking to me, and when I said they shouldn’t be doing that, and told them they could get arrested, and not be able to get a job, they attacked me.
E: You were in a coma and in critical condition.
L: Well, life is like sh-t, it happens.
E: What’s the last thing you remember about the attack?
L: I sat down hard, like you sometimes do. I was trying to see if those guys were going to come back at me. I guess I passed out. If a taxi driver hadn’t stopped to help, I would be dead.
E: Were you taken to Brackenridge?
L: Yes, they did brain surgery. And they took out more than they put back in. (laughs)
E: Austin was worried.
L: When I woke up, I learned there was a candlelight vigil outside the hospital. I wanted to let everyone out there know I was okay, but the doctors had me in protective custody. I wanted to escape. (winks) Really wanted to escape.
If you want to take Leslie’s photograph:
E: I only have about $5, but can I get you something to eat or drink?
L: No, but I could use $5.
E: OK. So does that mean I can take your picture?
L: Yes. And thank you for asking. So many people say, “I’ll tip you, I’ll tip you.” and after they take my picture they say, “Oh. I don’t have any money.”
E: Your income consists of tips and sales from your dress-up magnets?
L: Yes, and if you take my picture the least you can do is give me a dollar. But I’m not good about asking, you know? (looks down at a lottery ticket) I’d like to find that nice man who just gave me $2.
L: To let him know I’ve just doubled his investment.
If Leslie won the lottery:
E: You won $4?
L: Yes, and I’m supporting the school education fund.
E: Is that Mega Millions?
L: No. I like the Weekly Grand. That’s $1,000 a week for 20 years.
E: What would you do if you won the Weekly Grand?
L: I’d put $200 direct deposit into a savings account. You gotta start at the ground floor and pay your taxes. Then I’d have $800 direct deposited into a different account.
E: $800 a week. How would you spend it?
L: First, I’d get an apartment and get off the street.
E: An apartment, where?
L: (laughing) South Austin. Is there any other place?
The “Leslie Dress-Up Magnet” set:
E: But you do have some income, from the sales of your magnets?
L: Yes. But while I was in the hospital my shed was broken into. 6 boxes of magnets were stolen. There’s 100 in a box and they cost (retail) $16 each. I can’t restock. If I don’t sell magnets I can’t keep my phone turned on.
E: Your phone? I wish I’d had your number. I’ve been looking for you to get an interview.
L: I’ve got to keep it turned on. Give people my number. Tell them to help me keep my phone turned on.
E: Are you sure? Just publicize your number?
L: (laughs) Honey, if they don’t have my number how can they call me?
E: You’ve got a point. I guess it surprises me since you were assaulted. I must be feeling a little protective of you.
L: (laughs) Girl when I was a younger man I would have taken them all out. But when they come at you with pipes, knives and chains (shrugs). I’m not into revenge.
Leslie Dress-Up Magnets are sold by several local merchants including Cafe Caffeine located at 909 West Mary Street Austin, TX 78704
Leslie’s phone number is 512-299-5415.
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