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Weekend Q&A: Matt Cavan aka drag queen Cherrie Ontop

Matt Cavan (33) is an actor whose drag creation Cherrie Ontop delivered a storytelling session for Young at Art at The MAC last week.

Matt Cavan as drag queen Cherrie Ontop
Jane Hardy

How do you relax at the weekend?

I like to spend time with my three dogs - Lola, Bob and Zeus - and we explore east Belfast. With my drag work, I may do events for adults in the evening, kids in the afternoon. I've done weddings as Cherrie and a memorial for a woman who came to see me at the Cabaret Club - she made the trip on her last day out of the house. Before The MAC event, I wasn't expecting any negative feedback and the tickets sold out on the day. There was a protest, but also a show of support. It has been scary with death threats and the police involved. But the readings went well – I included My Shadow is Pink for the Pride theme but have read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe in a reading at Holywood Arches. It's amazing to see children become fascinated, their minds open.

What do you remember most about weekends growing up?

I was brought up in Carrickfergus with a wonderful family. I'm the baby of four. We're all close and I remember hanging out with my sibling bunch. It was great until I started coming out at 15. I was a theatre kid before I could think. I'd go to the Rainbow Factory, Stagecoach, had piano and singing lessons.

Is there a must-listen weekend radio programme or podcast?

On Sunday afternoon I tune in to Elaine Paige for two hours of musical theatre. I sing along and at the moment I'm loving the Sondheim catalogue.

Is there a must-watch TV programme or Netflix?

I've just finished watching Under the Banner of Heaven about fundamentalism and the Church of the Latter Day Saints. I'm a crime diva too, anything by Dick Wolf.

Is Sunday still special?

I'm not religious any more but was brought up in the Presbyterian church. There are a lot of Christians in my circle. For the past 10 years, though, one of my favourite things has been doing a two-and-a-half hour show at the Cabaret Club. Sunday has always felt special.

Have you a favourite eatery or is it a takeaway?

I don't cook for myself, it's Deliveroo. I'm a particular fan of a Chinese, choosing salt chilli chicken and chicken chow mein. My favourite Belfast restaurant is Yugo, also The Juice Jar, where I sometimes work.

How do you feel on Sunday night about Monday morning?

Monday is just another day as I haven't done the nine to five since I was about 18. You don't start rehearsals until 10am and stop at 4.30pm. It's not like sitting behind a desk.

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