There's one scene in the Patrick Swayze-Demi Moore romance movie “Ghost” that has stuck in the zeitgeist for the 28 years since its release.
A shirtless Swayze sits behind Moore, who is forming a vase on her pottery wheel, and promptly knocks it all down when he tries to help. The two embrace, and his hands fold over hers to form the clay again. Not-fit-for-print ensues.
So, years ago, former Clay Studio of Missoula Director Hannah Fisher was inspired to give Missoula couples a chance to recreate the iconic scene, with a “Ghost”-themed event.
According to current director Shalene Valenzuela, the Valentine's Day-adjacent date night took its current form around five years ago, and has consistently sold out in recent years.
Ten couples get a lesson in pottery throwing (at the same wheel, of course) before the movie is shown, during which people can keep working, though Valenzuela said they all stop during the pottery scene.
“Generally, the focus is obviously that pinnacle scene in the movie,” she said.
After the movie there’s a contest, where couples can compete for prizes that include the best reenactment of the provocative pottery throwing.
Having two people work on one wheel isn’t really a recommended method, Valenzuela said. The teaching portion focuses more on taking turns than overlaying hands on the clay like Swayze and Moore.
Valenzuela wasn’t aware of any other movies with pottery scenes, at least not any with moments as famous as “Ghost’s,” which has been parodied hundreds of times by Saturday Night Live, Family Guy and The Office. There’s a whole section of the film’s Wikipedia page dedicated to parodies.
“Ghost seems to be the one that sticks,” Valenzuela said.
Valenzuela’s professional opinion of how Moore’s character and the film treat pottery was mixed, although she admitted it’s been a few years since she’s seen the movie. Clay Studio Outreach Coordinator Jazmine Raymond leads the date night.
“I don’t know if someone imagined that scene and they made her a potter just to use that,” Valenzuela said. “I think it’s kind of thrown in just for that."
Although, she added, given that Moore’s character lives in Manhattan, “kudos to her for making a living.”
According to a 2015 Yahoo! Entertainment article that details the germination of the pottery scene and pulls from old interviews with the cast and crew, Moore was originally supposed to be a woodworker, but it switched to pottery during production.
Actual ceramicists were on set to help Moore get started on shaping her pieces before the cameras rolled.
“Production designer Jane Musky recalled the challenge of achieving ‘that wetness, so it was sensual, but not that it splattered all over their faces,’” the story says. Swayze added: "Getting all that mud stuff all over my arms — that was pretty sexy. Definitely got my juices going.’”
That’s some extra inspiration for couples who attend this year. They also get pizza and free firing of their best piece from the night, Valenzuela said.
“It’s not restricted to romantic couples,” she added. “Friends can come too.”