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Leslie dress-up magnet keeping Austin weird

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TWC News: Leslie dress-up magnet keeping Austin weird
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Austin is all about keeping it weird. And now there's a a wacky, tacky image of cross-dressing, homeless, occasional mayoral candidate and celebrity Leslie Cochran on a refrigerator magnet.

For $15, you can have their very own “Leslie'' to dress up in a miniskirt, a cheerleader outfit or a leopard print dress to keep in the kitchen. Miniature accessories include cowboy boots, a tiara, two cans of Lone Star beer and an armadillo on a leash.

The kitschy magnets started off at BookPeople in downtown Austin, but now they're available in more than 58 Texas cities and 23 states.

The 55-year-old Austin character gets 15 percent of sales, and BookPeople has sold more than 3,000 in the past six weeks. Sales are paying Cochran’s bills and he bought a shed to house his things.

It's hard to believe this avid accessorizer spent the past decade living homeless. But he stays in Austin because of his fans - many of whom are willing to make multiple road trips to get their hands on a “Leslie” magnet.

"Anytime you're a success and people appreciate what you do it's an honor … I may dress counter culturally but I do it with respect and I've got tenacity," Cochran said.

The self-proclaimed “street entertainer,'' ran unsuccessfully for Austin mayor in 2001.

Cochran pledged to plant more trees and promised to wear more conservative dresses to “respect the office'' if elected.

Plans are in the works to release a holiday “Leslie” magnet around Christmas next year.

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