Mary Jane Girl

Page 3 of 6

The only child of a Valley banker and his wife, Christie Bohling was rattling the establishment's cage almost from the day she could first stand up in a playpen.

In a 1985 New Times profile, published when Bohling was then facing a federal charge involving a conspiracy to smuggle 18,000 pounds of pot into this country from Mexico, the lifelong nose-thumber claimed there were two big influences on her life. One was TV's Dragnet, the cops 'n' robbers show whose black-and-white depiction of law and order clearly colored Bohling's world view.

The other was a Parker Bros. board game she'd play for hours on end.

"I was the Monopoly queen," Bohling told a reporter. "We'd play for very heavy bucks, and that's where I got my concept of money: You win, fine. You lose, you start another game."

But this born risk-taker would have to wait a few years before she could really vie for big stakes.

By the time Christie Bohling graduated from Arcadia High School in 1960, counterculture options were few and far between. The beat generation movement was dead and the next big alternative lifestyle choice -- hippiedom -- was still six years down the road.

So, Bohling being Bohling, she did what seemed to be the only logical thing: She moved to Fullerton, California, and married a poultry rancher.

Although details about this curious chapter of Bohling's life are sketchy, the highlight of this what's-wrong-with-this-picture union was undoubtedly its dissolution. While preparing for an appearance in divorce court, a friend slipped Bohling something to calm her nerves. The pill? LSD.

Single and now viewing life through the eyes of the newly enlightened, Bohling tripped back to Phoenix with the idea of opening a hip dress shop like the boutiques she'd seen in Los Angeles. When the cost proved prohibitive, she figured she'd raise the money by operating a poster shop. Taking out a lease on a former hamburger joint at 2510 North Seventh Street, Bohling and a girlfriend repainted the building's exterior with traffic-stopping psychedelic swirls, stocked its shelves with $500 worth of posters, incense and rolling papers and hung out their shingle in July 1967.

The Liquid Giraffe was open for business.

What that name meant is now anyone's guess; still, the giraffe allusion is apt. Although Bohling may not have realized it at the time, the proprietress of Phoenix's first head shop was really putting her neck on the line.

Interviewed by the Arizona Republic shortly after launching her business, Bohling enthused "We realized there was no such place in Phoenix, so we opened this shop. We want to turn the whole town on."

Accompanied by a photo of a bunch of teenagers in sunglasses and paisley prints sitting on the floor under a Jefferson Airplane poster, the full-page article ended with Bohling offering special thanks to Phoenix's finest.

"I would like to emphasize the cooperation we have had from the police," she stressed. "They have been very nice and we try to help them by enforcing the curfew for the younger kids who hang out here."

Just two months later, that cross-generational love fest was over.

"Fears of Hippies Leads to Arming" screamed an October 3 Phoenix Gazette headline over a story that claimed neighbors were taking up guns to defend themselves against the rowdy clientele at the Liquid Giraffe and two other nearby head shops, The Acid Vat and The Purple Bag.

"So many of us have been threatened and intimidated that the situation is moving toward open violence," one resident told a reporter. "These establishments have created a threat to the health and safety of the community at large."

Explaining that the hippies had "stolen lawn furniture, used our autos for petting, set off firecrackers [and] discarded beer and pop cans on the lawn," homeowners submitted a petition to have the shop closed as a public nuisance.

Clearly relishing her role as a rogue retailer (she now occasionally kept the store open 24 hours a day, with bands sometimes performing atop the roof), Bohling dismissed the prevailing lynch mob mentality as "the silliest thing I ever heard because that [hippie] won't do anything but throw a flower at you."

Such comments did little to endear Bohling to the cops, who reportedly began monitoring her every move. Driving home from the shop, she was regularly pulled over and ticketed for such picayune offenses as squeaky brakes and operating a car while barefooted. It was around this time that Bohling found a bag of marijuana that someone -- Bohling always suspected the cops -- had planted in her car. Enraged over being set up, she told the cops that if they didn't lay off, she was really going to flood the state with marijuana.

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Dewey Webb