"It seems like I always had a file open on Christie," says Craig Mehrens, a longtime friend and attorney who represented her over the years. "One of my favorite stories about her involved a wiretap. On the wire [agents] hear her talking to this guy and she says 'Okay, I'll meet you in the Safeway parking lot and I'll give you the keys then.'"
Hearing the word the word "keys" -- bygone pot slang for "kilos" -- the agents automatically assumed a big drug deal was going down. In reality, says Mehrens, laughing, "the guy had simply left the keys to his car at her house the night before and she was returning them to him."
Somewhere along the line, Bohling became a key player in the Phoenix pot scene.
As near as can be determined, that was probably around 1969, when through a remarkably convoluted chain of post-Liquid Giraffe events, Bohling became stranded in Spain while managing a rock band. Living on her wiles (and the proceeds from the Saks Fifth Avenue blouses she peddled for 70 cents apiece), Bohling eventually pulled herself out of the hole by smuggling hashish from Tangiers to Hawaii several times.
Reliving several particularly hairy experiences (one of her favorite tales was about hashing out a dope deal in Morocco with knife-wielding "people who had probably never seen a white girl before"), Bohling told a New Times reporter in 1985, "I've been through so much shit, I can't believe it."
And if there hadn't been so many witnesses around to verify her fantastic tales, skeptics would have been well within their rights to dismiss Bohling's exploits with "and what was she smoking?"
"Christie was the stereotypical good-hearted marijuana trafficker," says Walter Nash, a Tucson attorney who handled Bohling's 1985 conspiracy case. "The defendant that you'd see in the '60s would later become a big-time real estate broker or an investment banker -- they were really bright, well-educated people that just wanted the rush. Now it's much more hardcore and you'll find much more of what you'd define as 'real crime' involved than it was back then. That sort of business doesn't exist anymore."
Fortunately for Christie Bohling, that burgeoning field was still wide open to counterculture capitalists like herself when she returned to the United States in 1971.
Following a shaky start as the state's first waterbed franchisee (the mattresses all leaked), Bohling kept her head above water at Clouds, a boutique she opened across the street from the defunct Liquid Giraffe. An upscale version of her earlier store, the hippie emporium also carried whatever Bohling happened to interested in at that particular time.
"You walked in there and you could buy anything from a hash pipe to a $3,000 gold ring," says a musician friend named Tucker, owner of the McNasty Brothers' Ranch. "God, man, Clouds had everything."
Of course, not all of Bohling's inventory was on the shelf.
By the bicentennial year, she'd established herself as one of the town's most legendary pot smugglers, a shrewd maverick whose operation closely paralleled that of Johnny Depp's character in the earlier reels of Blow. After hooking up with a trio of well-heeled young smugglers from Texas, Bohling began importing loads of pot from small Mexican farms via cars and planes. Although her initial function was to oversee a distribution center in Phoenix while others were on the road, the self-styled "designer drug smuggler" eventually put her own personal stamp all over the operation, right down to the silk-screened labels that adorned her kilos.
The business agreed with Bohling, and vice versa. Playing the role of the outlaw entrepreneur to the hilt (friends say she frequently referred to herself as "The Queen of the World"), Bohling ruled her kingdom in high style. Yet despite her love of the good life -- ignoring the pervading hippie ethic of the day, she flaunted her affinity for designer clothes, expensive jewelry and fresh manicures like a well-heeled rock star -- Bohling rarely wound up with anything to show for her illicit activities.
"She never wound up with much money herself," says Patrick Lange. "She was always funding some clinic, putting up money for someone who was trying to start a business or helping one of her friends who was in trouble."
One of the McNasty Brothers puts Bohling's philanthropy in more succinct terms. "All of Christie's pot [business] really takes a backseat to the other stuff the lady did," says Tucker. "Compassionate? She has literally taken care of thousands of people on the edge of whatever. Her whole left tit was heart."