Kiwi bunny reveals the one rule of Hugh Hefner's that all the girls hated

Kiwi and former Playboy bunny Sandra Costa admits it's "kind of crazy to cry over a boss", but she's shedding tears nonetheless.

Hugh Hefner, who founded the Playboy empire in the early 1950s, died on Thursday (NZ time) after a long battle with cancer. He was 91.

"He was fabulous. I had a wonderful time working for Hefner," Costa told The AM Show on Friday. "He changed my life."

Sandra Costa on The AM Show.
Sandra Costa on The AM Show. Photo credit: The AM Show

Costa left Auckland as a teenager in the late 1960s, eventually finding herself working in one of Hefner's Florida clubs. She was only 19, two years younger than the law required at the time.

"But with my personality and my Kiwi accent, I don't know how I did it but I managed to talk my way in," said Costa.

"I wasn't quite sure what quite sure what I was getting into."

She soon found herself at the top of the Playboy pecking order, teaching other girls how to be the best bunnies they could.

"I was the top-paid Playboy bunny throughout 19 clubs. I smiled a lot, I talked... I used to train all the girls how to walk and how to do the bunny dip, lean backwards," she said.

"We had a pink credit card - I still have mine, it says 'Bunny Sandra' - when I used to go out I used to be able to use my pink bunny card and I never paid for anything... We were celebrities. I was on the Johnny Carson Show, I was with the Rat Pack."

Her parents even got to enjoy the high life too, regularly being flown over to California to stay at the mansion.

"He was fabulous. I had a wonderful time working for Hefner."

There was one rule she hated, however.

"You had to bend backwards, and the girls were always complaining their backs hurt... If you bent forwards, you'd get demerits. You were never allowed to bend forwards."

Costa went on to become a designer, delivering a custom chair for Hefner not long ago.

"He used to say to me, 'You know, you can do everything,' and I believed him... He gave me the real strength to be able to get out there and do it."

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