The Austin Chronicle


By Robert Faires, September 30, 2005, Arts

One name came up in every single interview conducted for Keepin' It Weird, says Steakley, and that name was … Leslie. Everyone had some take on the man in the skirt on the street, and Steakley was surprised by the range of attitudes expressed: "I thought generally it was going to be pretty positive about Leslie, in terms of how people talked about him. And what I found was that whatever people liked or disliked about Austin, he became the embodiment of that, he became the sponge by which people related that. If there were things about Austin's change or growth or whatever, he became the manifestation of that. And for some people, he became the symbol of hanging on to what was being lost. People could point to that as being indicative of our so-called tolerance: 'Well, he gets to live here.' So that was surprising. I don't know, I think there's a whole play on Leslie, because not only is he the touchstone of everything we aspire to be or dislike, he's that Mickey Mouse at the Magic Kingdom. I spent three different times with Leslie, but the day that I spent all day with him was at Spamarama. I was out there for eight hours, and I stuck pretty close to him because I wanted to try to experience a day in the life of. And nobody could come in there, regardless of race or socioeconomic level, without getting their picture made with Leslie. They had to have a photo of them with him. And to see Leslie play Leslie and then drop that persona to talk about his concerns about the police department or the things that are on his own agenda. And then to see him become that guy again, and he has learned to be malleable, depending on what the person coming up needs from him."

Leslie has already been to see a performance of the show. Interestingly, the first mention of his name in the show was greeted with spontaneous applause.

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