CLOSE

The knees of most, if not all, women in attendance at the press event for “Zane’s The Jump off, ” turned to mush and their eyes erupted with vehement anticipation when the “Z” boys arrived at the Xen Lounge in Studio City, just a hop, skip and a jump away from Hollywood’s outer wall. It wasn’t your typical football team storming into the gymnasium during a pep rally kind of moment, however.

Since making a grand entrance is standard behavior for hoity-toity LA-types, every member of the new series “Zane’s The Jump Off,” each with his own individual flair and panache, emerged solo to make a final promotional push before the premiere of the inaugural episode.

In what appeared to be a swank, west-coast imagining of Dracula’s lair, the setting made sense considering the occasion. A “come-hither” blend of dark reds, dry yellows, glacier greys, and forest greens made up the lighting arrangement throughout the main room, which included an open-bar, an upper-layer of pristine, oak wood floors on which sat a fleet of juxtaposed wrap-around booths surrounding marble tables, one of the tables spanned the entire length of the bottom level, a compact stage for performers, and plastered to the ceiling above were two life-sized, parallel duplicates of a young, dark-haired beauty covered in sweat, seemingly flush from heat or exhaustion, wearing only her birthday suit. Needless to say, the atmosphere oozed with deliberate mystique and contagious sex appeal. And for the guests, including Duane Martin (“Above the Rim”) who made a pit-stop with his entourage for a quick meal, suspended were plasma screens featuring snippets of the upcoming season.

“Black sexuality is a taboo subject in Americ[a] principally because it is a form of black power over which  whites have little control — yet its   visible manifestations evoke the most visceral of white responses, be it one of seductive obsession or downright disgust.  – Cornel West (excerpt from “Black Sexuality: The Taboo Subject”)

Brought to you by Cinemax, who else?, “Zane’s The Jump Off” navigates through the lives of five African-American male 30-somethings who share a brotherhood through mutual allegiance with the fraternity “Sigma Omega Kappa,” a breeding center for polished playboys. The whole gang happens to remain in tropical Miami after college, an apt choice of location considering the premise, and there they greedily hunt female prey as if women are close to extinction. The city’s infamous culture of sandy beaches, opulence, fast cars and untamed promiscuity sets the tone for later episodes, all of which include sequences of mild pornographic relations between the cast members and their love interests. But unlike most examples of scripted erotica, be it softcore or the hard stuff (no pun intended), this chapter of the Zane saga, which began as literary fiction, is rooted in a sophisticated and surprisingly concrete storyline.

“It’s kind of groundbreaking because you’ve never seen 5 African-American males in an affluent setting with everyone just being themselves,” says Kinyumba Mutakabbir, who plays “Woody” on the show. “It’s not something where we’re pretentious or stuck up, we’re down to earth and it’s relatable to men and women.”

Read more at EURWeb