December 31, 1990 12:00 PM

It’s better on top. And who better to judge than Patrick Swayze? After all, the onetime dirty dancer spent most of his career in roustabout gigs: a studly teen fighting the Commies (Red Dawn), a slab o’ beefcake bouncer (Road House). But this year, the moguls got smart and cast him as Ghost‘s sweet Wall-Streeter, and it was Swayze who gave the flick, as they say in the trade, legs. The summer sleeper turned monster hit and grossed more than $200 million. Suddenly, Swayze means star power. (Not to mention what that pottery wheel scene with Demi Moore did for art-class enrollment nationwide.)

And how did he handle the heady rush of leading manhood? In athletic stride. “This stardom stuff stopped scaring me so much,” he says. “I’m not out to prove anything anymore.” Refreshingly there was no High Angst, no regrets—save one: He was out of town instead of home on the range when his favorite horse, Fancy, died.

Riding high, Swayze, 37, has big plans. He has gone blond for a role as a California surfer in Point Break. And a record, maybe. One thing is for certain: He won’t be falling back on his biceps. He and his actress wife, Lisa Niemi, also a hoofer, say they want to do a movie together, something classy, a Fred-and-Ginger kind of thing.

Okay, that is a pretty A-list ambition for a guy with mostly backdoor credits. But Swayze knows what it’s like not to be wanted: Time was not so long ago when some doubting director thought he was too rough around the edges to play an investment banker. That’s reminiscent of the one about that wiry guy in the ’30s who flubbed his Hollywood screen test. “Can’t act. Can dance a little,” they said. Don’t sweat it, Patrick. The guy was Astaire.

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