Erin O'daniel is a writer, artist and gender expansive womxn living in Duluth, Minnesota

Summer Orgasms-Frisson!!

In summer, I experience 20 minute orgasms almost daily. I drive, walk or bike my body 4 miles down to Lake Superior and for nearly ½ an hour tread water that tickles my ear lobes and frees my seasonally shackled, now consistently nearly-naked body, toes needlessly grazing the sandy smooth bottom to soak every sensation in. Full body pleasure, laughing out loud, complete release. I stare into the wild eyes of bigLake beauty, my primary love, this place that gifts me water rich experiences everyday. I’m held by green granite hillside, long blue horizon, white lighthouses to my left and right.


 My sensual, summer experiences make me think of the fab word frisson recently shared by a radically passionate, queer friend. Radically delicious definition follows… 

Frisson (French for 'shiver'), also known as aesthetic chills, musical chills, and colloquially as a skin orgasm, is a psychophysiological response to rewarding auditory and/or visual stimuli that induces a pleasurable paresthesia (skin tingling or chills), sometimes along with piloerection (goose bumps) and mydriasis (pupil dilation). The sensation commonly occurs as a mildly to moderately pleasurable emotional response to art/music with skin tingling- piloerection and pupil dilation do not necessarily occur in all cases. The psychological component (i.e., the pleasurable feeling) and physiological components (i.e., parasthesia, piloerection, and pupil dilation) of the response are mediated by the reward system and sympathetic nervous system, respectively. The stimuli that produce this response are unique to each individual.

Frisson is of short duration, lasting only a few seconds. Typical stimuli include loud passages of music and [written/visual art that evokes ecstasy]—that explodes some level of sensory expectation. During a frisson, a sensation of chills or tingling felt on the skin of the lower back, shoulders, neck, and/or arms. The sensation of chills is sometimes experienced as a series of 'waves' moving up the back in rapid succession and commonly described as "shivers up the spine". Hair follicles may also undergo piloerection.

The above makes me shiver, experience piloerecton, especially- “passages that explode some level of sensory expectation.” Explode as in exceed and expand. As in surprise and shock. Letting go of how the mind controls the outcome. Frisson is freedom found in the feeling good. As in orgasmic release.

Oh logophile meets seasonal bliss, yes! I adore when words, watery warmth and physiology come together to help me express and understand myself. The appreciation I have for how this season lends to connection to art, to my complete self and to thriving community creates Frisson daily. From treading water to extensive use of highlighters (Fab. Book. Explosion.) while reading in my hammock to all the ways I’m experiencing pleasure aka Frisson alongside others to loving/recognizing how alive I feel, to admitting I want more of this pleasure.

 Here is my love letter to the warm watery months on my bigLake- list flavor. Feel free to make your own. Yes to feeling Frisson!!

All the ways I’ve experienced skin orgasm inducing summer pleasure 2019:

  1. swimming in Lake Superior daily

  2. sharing art and music with folx. Can’t stop! So fun!

  3. spending solo and social afternoons on the beach

  4. reading deliciously QUEER books in my deliciously QUEER hammock

  5. feeling the undulations in my friend group as folx wildly embrace feeling good

  6. flirting it UP, summer is the ultimate opportunity!

  7. fresh summer salads- infinite greens!

  8. News that my sister is going to be in Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces” issue

  9. Outdoor art

  10. Biking the Munger Trail

  11. Paddling the Estuary and North Shore

  12. BlabAssing with old and new friends on a blanket

  13. Running in short sleeves, getting sweaty to the max

  14. Cold showers

  15. Summer reading, books books and more books!

  16. Ice cream

  17. Sleeping outside/camping

  18. Bat romps in shaded wild space

  19. Womxn’s World Cup watching with friends + BamBam stix= Queer is loud and jubilant!

  20. Skin showing ON EVERYONE!

  21. Skinnydipping in small bodies of water and the bigLake every chance I get.

  22. Pride parades and 50th anniversary of Stonewall

  23. More flirting, more reading

  24. Deeply falling in love all over again with Duluth- this place, these people I call home.

  25. Building radical queer community focused on pleasure and collective justice for all.



Feelin' Good As Hell

Queer Duluth Love Letter