As Austin becomes less and less Weird™ (in most cases striving desperately to do so)—or maybe it’s just that everywhere else turns out to be somewhat Weird™, too—the memory of Leslie Cochran could easily fade from the collective memory.
A description of the eccentric local activist, who died in 2012, inevitably pales in comparison to knowing or seeing him in action—riding his bike around Downtown in, say, a tube top, thong, work belt, platform shoes, and hardhat that reads “Police”—but The Austin Chronicle did a pretty good job when Leslie, as everyone knew him, was voted Best Austin Icon in its 2010 “Best of Austin” Readers Poll:
You know you’re an icon when people visiting from out of state (or even out of the country) happily tell their townie friends “I saw Leslie!” as if it’s a badge of having nailed the Austin experience. Such is the prominence achieved by River City’s favorite cross-dressing, neighborhood-rambling magnet-doll magnate, former mayoral candidate, and T.C. Boyle lookalike Leslie Cochran.
If local filmmaker Spencer Nutting has anything to do with it, though, Cochran will take up permanent residence as part of the city’s lore in the form of a statue on Congress Avenue—loitering on a bench at the corner of Sixth Street and Congress Avenue, outside of a Starbucks, to be exact.
Local NBC affiliate KXAN reported Sunday that Nutting, who is also working on a film about Cochran, is fundraising for the statue and hopes to raise $300,000 to make it a reality. Although it looks like Nutting’s GoFundMe has raised only $285 toward the goal, Starbucks is also raising funds for the installation, according to KXAN.
While full funding seems out of reach at present, Nutting isn’t sleeping on the project; KXAN reported that he and Austin artist Bob Coffee, who designed the statue, took a model of the statue downtown Sunday for final fitting before it is made into a mold to be cast in bronze. Until then, residents and tourists will have to make do with the plaque, fridge magnet, various murals, and old campaign posters—and, of course, Instagram.