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
Matt Cavan as drag queen Cherrie Ontop

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.